Partnership Grants Policy





The council provide grants to voluntary and community organisations to help build and support healthy communities and to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Vale of White Horse District. We recognise the need for revenue grants that extend more than one year, so that organisations can plan ahead with confidence.


We value locally based assured, supported advice services for residents, particularly those who are most in need due to inequalities from the cost of living crisis or other national issues. We will favour organisations who are actively exploring partnership or collaborative working with other voluntary organisations to avoid duplication of services provided and improve efficiency, along with other methods to help them to become more sustainable and have a greater impact in the communities they serve.


Basic rules of the scheme


The service we fund must support the delivery of at least one of the council’s Corporate Plan priorities for 2020 – 2024:


·         Building Healthy Communities

·         Working in Partnership


We also encourage applications for services that make a positive contribution towards the council’s equality objectives, in particular to ‘Support communities to deliver better outcomes for disadvantaged groups and encourage community cohesion’, as well as towards the council’s climate goals by supporting residents who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change by ensuring they are properly supported.

Information about the councils Corporate Plan priorities, Climate Action Plan and equality objectives can be found at


Organisations must:

·       Be based and provide services across the whole of the Vale of White Horse District, for the benefit of the Vale residents.

·       Provide information and advice services across the Vale in the areas of debt, employment, finance, housing, energy, family, law and courts, immigration and health. Either directly, or through signposting to other organisations.

·       Have a minimum of £175,000 annual operating costs and maximum of £450,000. Pro rata for district wide organisations.

·       Have a flexible partnership approach to service provision, to respond to local and national issues as they arise, meeting the needs of the council and its residents.

·       Provide access to the information and advice services 24/7 through offering multiple channels including telephone, email, website, Teams/Zoom (or similar) and face to face during office hours as essential.


What type of costs will the scheme fund?


We will fund information and advice services that benefit residents of the Vale (if a service covers a wider area the costs will need to be pro-rata).


Core revenue funding/costs such as:

·         salary costs relating to the services being supported

·         fundraising/income generation activities, that may include exploring new income streams to boost the sustainability of the applicant organisation (see appendix 2 for suggestions)

·         rent and rates etc for the location of the service (in the Vale district)

·         training staff in new skills to deliver services in our district (or a proportion if it is a county-wide service)

·         marketing and publicity for new/extended services, which those organisations provide, or a proportion for general publicity that includes a new service

·         professional fees directly linked to collaborative working with others or starting or extending a service

·         transport costs (such as mileage expenses) where they are clearly required as part of the objectives of the organisation.

We will not fund:


·         services that don’t meet the basic requirements of the scheme above

·         topping up savings and reserves, or setting up an endowment fund

·         repayment of debts or loans

·         staff bonuses

·         redundancy costs

·         purchase of large items of equipment

·         purchase of vehicles

·         new heating systems

·         the purchase of a new lease

·         the purchase of a building

·         statutory services that are the responsibility of the council or another public sector’s responsibility for delivering


Who can apply to the scheme?


Any constituted locally based voluntary sector organisation that meets the basic requirements of the scheme above.


This scheme is not open to:





We will accept applications for a minimum grant of £25,000 and a maximum grant of £100,000 per annum over the five-year period, towards the provision of the information and advice services listed in the basic rules of the scheme


We will limit awards to a maximum of one-third (33.33 per cent) of an organisation’s total annual running costs in 2022/2023 financial year.  


This will be a competitive grant scheme and the council may receive applications from many excellent and worthy organisations. Therefore, it is not always possible to fund every eligible application or award the full grant that is requested. We would advise applicants to have a thorough fundraising plan with contingencies in place.




The council has an annual budget of £154,920 and has committed to providing five years of sustainable funding, subject to annual review and approval by Council when setting its budget. This is to help ensure thriving advice services are able to flex their services to meet their needs, the needs of the council and ultimately our most vulnerable residents.






In addition to meeting the basic scheme requirements above, applicants must:


·         Submit all required documentation at the point of application submission to be eligible.

·         Provide a signed constitution, articles of association or equivalent.

·         Supporting statement to evidence the service covers the whole of the White Horse district.

·         Provide evidence that there is a need for the service, that it benefits residents of the Vale of White Horse District with clear outcomes, including local strategies, official reports and similar.

·         Provide full accounts for the last three years 2020/21 – 2022/23 (or a detailed working budget and financial plan for new organisations) and reserves policy.

·        Provide details of the estimated costs/budget to provide the service each year (over the five-year period). Your five year financial forecast should include all income and expenditure for the organisation, and a breakdown of your fundraising costs and income streams.

·        Provide evidence that staff and volunteers are sufficiently trained, and the advice given is quality assured.

·        Provide evidence that staff and volunteers are given the pastoral mental health support they need to provide the service.





We will aim to open for applications in July 2023 and will close for applications in September 2023. We will publish the opening and closing dates on our website.


Community Enablement Team


The community enablement team will review the eligibility of every application before using the scoring matrix in appendix one to suggest scores to the Partnerships Grant Panel.  They will also flag any concerns or issues for additional consideration, in order to support the panel’s decision making.


Head of Service

In accordance with the council’s constitution, the relevant Head of Service (using delegated powers) will decide:

·         if we will accept requests for over 33.33 per cent of the total annual running costs in any financial year

·         whether to amend award percentages beyond what was originally agreed, as requested by applicants. Increases will stay within the 33.33 per cent maximum limit for the scheme if we will accept applications that don’t meet all the eligibility criteria


Partnership Grant Panel (known at the PGP)


The PGP will consist of the relevant Head of Service, the relevant Cabinet member, Cabinet member for Finance and Chair of Scrutiny Committee.  The panel will consider officers suggested scores for each application and make recommendations to the relevant Cabinet member to consider and decide which grants to award based on the scoring matrix, at appendix one. Any awards over £25,000 will be Key decisions and subject to the council’s call-in procedure.


Competition for the fund means that not all worthy and eligible organisations will receive funding.


Even if an application scores enough points, the panel can recommend not funding it if they:


·      believe the service and/or organisation doesn’t meet the criteria

·      have serious concerns around the management of the organisation now or in the future.

·      believe the applicant has sufficient unrestricted reserves to fund the service themselves.

·      have serious concerns about the appropriateness of the service or its financial viability, such as if the organisation has not demonstrated having a sound fundraising plan with contingencies should any of their grant applications (to the council and others) be unsuccessful or award less than requested.

Should the application not receive enough points to be awarded any funding, the panel also have the discretion to recommend an annual grant award of up to £10,000 if:



Conditions of award

All organisations must enter into the council’s formal Grant Agreement before any payment is released.


We may add extra conditions to any grant during the decision-making process if we
consider it necessary. The Head of Service can also decide to remove any grant conditions or amend any targets following a written request from the organisation.

If a grant is considered a subsidy, then any grant awarded is declared and
offered as Minimal Financial Assistance and offered on the basis that the organisation has not received any other Minimal Financial Assistance in the current and previous two financial years, which in total exceeds or when taken together with this grant will exceed £315,000. This condition must be satisfied for each financial year of the grant period.

If a grant is considered a subsidy, then you must declare our grant award
amount to any other sources of Minimal Financial Assistance received in the future;
you must advise the council if you receive any other Minimal Financial Assistance
during the life of the grant award and declare that the threshold will not be
exceeded by accepting the grant award or other Minimal Financial Assistance in the future.

The funding is non-transferrable unless agreed by the council in writing in advance of
any spending and any unspent funds will be returned to the council upon request.

Organisations will comply with all relevant statutes and regulations related to its
status, objectives and delivery of its core activities.

Organisations must have suitable insurance in place for the duration of the grant.

Organisations must obtain agreement of the council prior to making any significant changes to their service/project/activity or their general organisation structure.

Organisations must have appropriate policies in place to safeguard children, young
people and vulnerable adults, and comply with equalities, GDPR, take action to tackle the climate emergency and any other relevant legislation.


Organisations must acknowledge the council’s support in any press, publicity or
promotion of the project.




We will pay annual grants in two equal stages, the first half at the start of the year (April/May) following approval of performance targets, and the balance approximately six months later, after a satisfactory mid-year monitoring review against targets set. Subsequently, twice yearly following satisfactory monitoring meetings.

We reserve the right to change the grant payment schedule, as above, to staged payments, closely linked to performance, should a monitoring return not be submitted after year one and/or subsequently; should year one and/or subsequent target actuals be unsatisfactory or as we deem appropriate.

We reserve the right to withdraw or withhold the grant which is subject to availability of approved budgets at the time of payment. In accordance with constitution of the council.

Appendix 1

Partnership Grant scheme 2024-2029 Scoring Matrix


Priority level

Awards: All awards are subject to sufficient budget. Medium priorities will only receive funding if there is budget left after all the high priority projects are awarded. In exceptional cases, high priority projects may not receive 100 per cent of their request if it will have a detrimental impact on medium projects.

High priority

Award up to the full amount requested (capped at 33.33 per cent of total organisational running cost). We would expect applications to perform strongly across all of the scoring categories, as detailed below.

Medium priority

Will only receive funding if there is budget left after all the high priority projects are awarded. The percentage of funding awarded will be dependent on remaining funds.

Low priority

Will NOT receive funding











Financial Review

Do they have?

0 - 1 points

2 - 3 points

4 - 5 points

A balanced five-year financial forecast plan covering 2024/2025 to 2028/29, with evidence of a diverse income base.






(0) No plan has been submitted.


(1) A limited plan which doesn’t cover the required five-year period.


(2) A realistic five-year plan that includes evidence of a diverse income base. Whilst some over reliance on certain income streams and small gaps in funding, this is unlikely to impact service delivery.

(3) As above however

Clear movement towards a more sustainable and balanced funding base, with a realistic plan to reduce budget deficits.


(4) A detailed five-year plan demonstrating a diverse range of secured income streams and balanced budget each year.


(5) As above and

There is a healthy balance of both restricted and unrestricted funds.





Has the organisation achieved a balanced budget over the last three financial years AND a level of reserves that is sufficient to meet the needs of the organisation?

(2020/2021, 2021/2022, and 2022/2023)





(0) Each financial year appears to show significant gaps in balancing the budget with no explanation and / or no reserves policy has been submitted.


(1) Each financial year budget negatively affected by COVID 19 or other factors, with evidence of significant reduction in services/activities. Officers note a concerning depletion of reserves over the three years that isn’t within the reserves policy.

(2)  Each financial year budget negatively affected by COVID 19 or other factors, leading to an overall reduction in services. The reserves policy has some depletion over the last three years with little explanation, but officers can see it is still within reserves parameters


(3) As above however

Officers note only a marginal reduction in services/activities with a clear explanation for depletion of reserves.



(4) Some, but not all financial year’s budgets are affected by COVID 19 or other factors with evidence to explain and overall increase in services/activities. Has a reserves policy, no depletion of reserves over the last 3 years.


(5) All financial years have balanced budgets showing both an increase in services/activities and income and officers note some growth in reserves.







The Service(s) / Activities



0 - 1 points

2 - 3 points

4 - 5 points

Community need, responsiveness consultation and inclusion













(0) There does not appear to be community need, most likely due to insufficient evidence/information submitted


(1) Officers get a limited sense of community need and/or responsiveness to changing community need, likely due to limited evidence/information supplied and / or limited consultation has taken place with existing users.


(2) Some indication of community need and/or responsiveness to changing community need with consultation limited to existing service users only.


(3) as above however


Officers can see evidence of regular consultation with service users.







(4) Strong and clear indication of community need, and/or responsiveness to changing community need. Consultation is regularly carried out with the community/other stakeholders. Evidence of customer satisfaction data implemented, with service users e.g., including priority group/ vulnerable people, at the heart of the improving service design and delivery.

(5) as above and


Substantial consultation is regularly carried out with the community/other stakeholders, including priority groups if the service/activities impact them.


Evidence that the service is designed to meets the needs of all users and delivering better outcomes for vulnerable/priority groups and/ or improving areas of deprivation and/or encouraging community cohesion.

Direct community benefit and inclusion

This is not an exhaustive or definitive list yet within the scope of this scoring matrix ‘vulnerable’ / priority groups can include, the elderly, isolated young families, homeless, economically disadvantaged, educationally disadvantaged, migrant groups, individuals with disabilities, and those with impairments.


(0) The service/ activities appear to offer little or no direct benefit to the community.  


(1) Up to 50 residents, which does not appear to include vulnerable/ priority groups.






(2) More than 51 and up to 500 residents and it is clear this includes some vulnerable/ priority groups.


(3) As above and

Providing services that compliment council services or indirectly will reduce the likelihood of needing support from the council.


or (3) points if a service/activity is directly supporting up to 50 vulnerable residents and / or priority groups


(4) More than 501 residents and includes a large proportion of ‘vulnerable’ residents.


(5) As above and

Providing services that compliment council services or indirectly will reduce the likelihood of needing support from the council.






Diversity of services offered


Advice services for residents in the whole of Vale in areas of debt, employment, finance, energy, housing, family, law and courts, immigration and health.






(0) No advice services provided to residents that meet the criteria



(1) Limited advice services provided (up to two) and doesn’t   signpost to support available.


(2) Advice services covering three subject areas


(3) As above, and


Signposts residents to relevant organisations


(4) Advice service covering four to five subject areas, and signposts to other support available.


(5) Advice services covering all 10 subject areas and can signpost to any additional support available.

Service channels provided

Telephone, email, face to face, letter, website, web chat, Teams/Zoom, outreach (home visits, outreach events)


(0) no detail on service channel provision submitted


(1) Limited channels offered (e.g., email, website)

(2) Three service channels provided


(3) Four of more service channels provided, not including face to face.

(4) Provide access to the advice services 24/7 through multiple channels: Telephone, email, letter, website, web chat, Teams/Zoom and face to face during office hours (9am – 5pm)


(5) As above and

Home visits for vulnerable residents and/or outreach events to promote services and/or outreach hubs providing face to face services in the district

Partnership working/collaboration/responsiveness


(0) No information regarding a flexible responsive approach, partnership working or collaboration with other similar organisations to deliver the service, avoid duplication or cut costs


(1) Limited information regarding a flexible responsive approach, partnership working or collaboration with similar organisations to deliver the service that result in minor efficiency savings and avoids duplication

(2) Some information provided regarding a flexible responsive approach, with two or three examples of partnership working or collaboration to deliver the service, that results in minor efficiency savings and avoids duplication


(3) As above and

Partnership working or collaboration results in major efficiency savings

(4) Information provided demonstrates a flexible responsive approach. Four or five examples of partnership working or collaboration that demonstrates avoiding duplication of services and results in a mix or minor and major efficiency savings and /or improvements for the service user


(5) As above and

Partnership working or collaboration results in major efficiency savings and improvements for the service user


Appendix 2

Diversifying Income Streams

COVID has brought a new hybrid way of fundraising; mixing digital methods with more traditional routes and giving more confidence to try new things to help your organisation weather future storms.