Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda


Memorandum by the New Opportunities Fund (CEM 96)

1.  INTRODUCTION

  1.1  This submission provides a brief introduction to the New Opportunities Fund and our current grant programmes in the environment field, with particular reference to the potential for funding projects involving cemeteries.

  1.2.  The New Opportunities Fund is a Lottery Distribution Body created by the National Lottery Act 1998. It was established to make grants to health, education and environment projects under initiatives specified by the Government. Many of our grant programmes focus particularly on those who are most disadvantaged in society.

  1.3  In its White Paper, The People's Lottery and in the National Lottery Act 1998, the Government made it clear that it wished to refocus Lottery funding on the needs and concerns of local communities, to increase access to funding and to ensure more equitable distribution. The creation of the New Opportunities Fund reflected these priorities.

  1.4  Our initiatives are proposed by the Government and subject to consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny. They are then developed and delivered by the Fund. In this, the Fund works closely with Government departments, devolved administrations, regional bodies and other partners and providers to ensure that we complement their work. Programmes have been developed in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to meet each country's distinct needs.

2.  GREEN SPACES AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

  2.1  We will distribute £125 million across the UK by 2002 under our first environment initiative, green spaces and sustainable communities. The framework and funding for the initiative are set out in the policy directions issued to the Fund by the Government.

  2.2  The funding is divided between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales according to population and weighted to reflect levels of deprivation. In Scotland, 75 per cent of the funding available has been allocated to the formation of the Scottish Land Fund. Across the UK, 75 per cent of the funding has been allocated to green spaces schemes.

  2.3  We will fund a wide range of projects under the green spaces and sustainable communities programme, including schemes which make better use of green space for communities—for example, providing or improving green spaces for play and recreation, including playing fields and parks. We also fund projects which create or improve outside space for children's play, which will help communities access, use and enjoy green space and the countryside, and small sustainable community based projects that contribute to sustainable development in social, economic and environmental terms.

DELIVERING THE PROGRAMME

  2.4  To ensure that this funding makes a real difference, and that communities can genuinely be involved in the projects we fund, we have decided to deliver the programme by working in partnership with national Award Partners. The Award Partners, who bring considerable experience of distributing funding to environmental projects, will run umbrella schemes or delegated grant programmes which deliver funding at a local level.

  2.5  We launched the programme on January 2000 and requested Expressions of Interest from organisations with appropriate skills and experience to become Award Partners. In September 2000, following detailed assessment, the Fund publicly announced details of the organisations invited to deliver grant and umbrella schemes as Award Partners of the New Opportunities Fund.

  2.6  The Fund is currently working with all the Award Partners to finalise their contracts. This will be followed by announcements in Spring 2001 giving details of the programmes and how communities can apply. A full list of Award Partners and their schemes is attached at Annex 1.

CEMETERIES

  2.7  Award Partners have been appointed to manage schemes which meet the priorities set for funding of green spaces and sustainable communities. These priorities were determined on the basis of the policy directions which we received from the Government, the Fund's own broad consultation process, and further discussions with Government Departments and devolved administrations. Cemeteries, unlike playing fields and parts, were not specifically mentioned in the policy directions set by Government and did not emerge as a priority either in our consultation or in further discussions with Departments. In England, funding for playing fields and children's play emerged as key priorities.

  2.8  The policy directions give a steer toward co-operating with the Heritage Lottery Fund's Urban Parks Programme, under which HLF has funded a number of projects involving cemeteries. The Fund and HLF had developed joint guidance for applicants on the interface between HLF funding and the green spaces and sustainable communities programme.

  2.9  Funding for cemeteries may potentially be available under the programme where communities can demonstrate to Award Partners that proposed projects fit the relevant funding criteria. In particular, cemeteries may be eligible for support as green space of environmental value to the community, under the following Award Partner schemes:

    —  The Countryside Agency's grant scheme, which will offer communities funding to manage and use their own multi-purpose "community greens".

    —  The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers' grant scheme, which will offer funding for communities to use volunteers to create or improve green space in areas where open space is limited due to social and economic disadvantage.

    —  English Nature's grant scheme, which will fund projects to enhance and expand the number of Local Nature Reserves.

    —  Award Partner schemes in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (other than the Scottish Land Fund), which support the creation or improvement of green spaces, access to green spaces and greening public places.

  2.10  Each Award Partner will have fully delegated authority to assess bids and make awards under the terms of the scheme and it will be for them to determine which projects receive support.

  2.11  In a number of the Award Partner schemes, such as the Sport England scheme which focuses on playing fields, there is unlikely to be any scope for applicants to successfully bid for funds for projects involving cemeteries.

3.  TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES

  3.1  The Government has recently announced proposals for a third round of New Opportunities Fund programmes, which includes a new environment programme, Transforming Communities. The Government has proposed that £150 million will support three strands of activity: local environmental projects in urban and rural communities, offshore wind power and biomass power generation, and local recycling projects.

  3.2  The Department for Culture Media and Sport is currently consulting on the proposals (deadline 17 January 2001), before issuing policy directions to the Fund (expected in Spring 2001). The Fund will then consult with key stakeholders on how the programme might be most effectively delivered.

Annex 1

Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities—Award Partners

ENGLAND

  In England the Fund has invited five organisations to manage open grant schemes and two to manage umbrella schemes. These are:

Grant Schemes

    —  Barnardo's will distribute over £9 million for "Better Play" schemes.

    —  BTCV will distribute more than £6 million to manage the "People's Play" schemes.

    —  The Countryside Agency will distribute almost £13 million to manage a "Grass Routes" programme.

    —  English Nature will distribute more than £4 million to support "Local Nature Reserves".

    —  The Royal Society for Nature Conservation will distribute almost £14 million for a "Social, Economic and Environment Development (SEED)" projects.

Umbrella Schemes

    —  Sport England will distribute more than £31 million for "Playing Fields and Community Spaces".

    —  Sustrans will distribute more than £7 million for "Green Routes and Safe Routes".

SCOTLAND

  The Scottish Land Fund, managed by Highland and Islands Enterprise, will distribute £10.7 million to assist rural communities throughout Scotland with sustainable projects, involving the purchase, development and/or management of the land they live and work on or near.

  A partnership between Scottish National Heritage and Forward Scotland will distribute over £3 million for green spaces and sustainable communities. This funding will include a grant scheme offering awards of up to £100,000 for community based projects to improve access to green spaces, an umbrella scheme to support sustainable communities projects and a 10-year scheme for green space development, maintenance and improvement.

NORTHERN IRELAND

  The Creating Common Ground partnership, led by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, will manage a grant scheme of almost £2 million to provide support for communities to create and improve their social and physical environment through greening public places, community safety projects and neighbourhood renewal schemes. Creating Common Ground has also been invited to manage an umbrella scheme which will support these activities, targeting marginalised communities.

WALES

  The Wales Council for Voluntary Action is leading a partnership to manage a grant scheme (£7.5 million), Enfys: Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities, offering grants across a range of activities to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities.

  All the schemes supported will need to demonstrate that they have in place arrangements to safeguard community access in the longer term, complement local strategies and avoid displacing existing sources of funding. We expect applications to be developed by partnerships and to lever in other sources of funding.

January 2001


 
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