To consider the head of policy and programmes’ report.
Cabinet considered the head of policy and programmes’ report on partnership grants.
In October 2021, Cabinet had agreed to commission an organisation to provide information and advice services from 2023 onwards. However, this had proved to be complex to align with the partnership approach being delivered through the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently during the response to support refugees and asylum seekers being welcomed across the district, and providing support residents affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
The partnership organisations currently being funded and working in partnership with the council, had embraced a highly flexible approach to supporting our local residents and targeting their services to meet resident need and our agreed priorities.
The Cabinet member for community engagement believed that having flexibility within community partnership arrangements was essential in the current climate. The Cabinet member recommended that Cabinet reconsidered its previous decision to commission an organisation to provide information and advice services from 2023 onwards. The current flexible operating model was providing an efficient and effective route to allocate government funding and provide support to our most vulnerable residents at a time of challenge and uncertainty. The Cabinet member recommended continuing the existing funding arrangements for until March 2024, subject to approval of the budget by Council in February 2023. This would allow a new partnership grant fund policy to be prepared and considered during 2023/24, with applications to be made and determined by Cabinet in readiness for approval of the budget by the Council for 2024/25.
Cabinet supported the proposal. It was important to support the partnership organisations at this time while the council considered new models for the future. Cabinet was content for the partnership organisations to be consulted on the draft proposals for 2024/25.
(a) cease the process to explore the commissioning of information and advice services from 2023 onwards (as previously agreed in October 2021);
(b) extend the current Partnership Grants to Oxfordshire South and Vale Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Wantage Independent Advice Centre (now known as Vale Community Impact) and Community First Oxfordshire towards the provision of services across the district to 31 March 2024, subject to approval of the 2023/24 budget by full Council; and
(c) consider potential partnership models for the Partnership Grant fund with the intention to commence a new funding scheme from April 2024 onwards, subject to approval of the 2024/25 budget by full Council.