Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by New Opportunities Fund (PPG 25)

URBAN AFFAIRS SUB-COMMITTEE HEARING AND GREEN SPACES AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

THE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FUND

  The New Opportunities Fund was established as a new Lottery Distributor by the National Lottery Act 1998 to make grants to health, education and environment projects, UK-wide, under initiatives to be specified by the Government. The New Opportunities Fund's sponsor Department is DCMS.

  The New Opportunities Fund provides lottery funding for health, education and environment projects which will help create lasting improvements to the quality of life, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Our aim is to ensure that our programmes complement funding available from other sources, and that our work supports local, regional and national strategies and plans in England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland. We value and support effective partnership working. We will learn from best practice, listen and respond to stakeholders and evaluate the effectiveness of our programmes. We will be open, accountable and financially efficient and prudent, and we will provide clear and relevant information, guidance and feedback to applicants.

GREEN SPACES AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

  Under the programme the Fund will commit £125 million to help urban and rural communities throughout the UK to understand, improve or care for their natural and living environment. Policy directions establish that 75 per cent of the total funding available is for green spaces, with 25 per cent of funding available for sustainable communities.

  The Fund established country allocations for green spaces and sustainable communities (based on population and weighted to reflect deprivation). £96.8 million is available in England (based on an allocation of 77.5 per cent), £14.3 million is available in Scotland (based on an allocation of 11.5 per cent), £8.1 million is available in Wales (based on an allocation of 6.5 per cent) and £5.6 million is available in Northern Ireland (based on an allocation of 4.5 per cent).

  Policy directions set by Government for the green spaces and sustainable communities programme indicate that the Fund should deliver the programme to fund a broad range of activities. In order to establish priorities the Fund consulted widely with key stakeholders on how best to deliver the initiative.

  In England, priorities set for the programme include:

    —  recreational green space and playing fields;

    —  space for children's play;

    —  making green space more accessible for communities; and

    —  sustainable communities.

  (Broadly, priorities are the same in each of devolved countries. Where priorities differ, this is to reflect the national context, for example in Northern Ireland, the sustainable communities scheme will reflect the need for support for social, economic as well as physical and environmentally focussed projects).

SELECTION OF AWARD PARTNERS

  The New Opportunities Fund received support from stakeholders to pursue using its powers to delegate decision making authority to external partners able to deliver funding on its behalf. In January 2000 guidance was issued for potential Award Partners, who wished to submit proposals and gain funding to support their management of grant programmes and umbrella schemes.

  To meet policy directions, the fund appointed a small number of organisations, which were able to demonstrate that they have relevant skills and experience in the sector needed to work with communities, and the financial and management capacity to deliver the priorities set. The criteria Award Partners were asked to meet are included in copies of the Information for Award Partners booklet.

Scope of each scheme

  The award partner schemes are given in Table A:

Table A:

GREEN SPACES AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES SCHEMES
PartnerProgramme PriorityPeriod
England
Barnardo's£9.3 m (£2-100k) Children's play space2004
(Better Play)


BTCV
£6.5 m (£3-10k) Making green spaces more2006
(People's Places)accessible for communities


Countryside Agency
£12.8 m (£10-150k) Making green spaces more2006
(Doorstep Greens)accessible for communities


English Nature
£4.6 m (£5-25k) Making green spaces more2006
(Wildspace!)accessible for communities


RSNC
£13.9 m (£5-100k) Sustainable communities2004
(SEED)


Sport England
£31.5 m Recreational green space and playing fields 2004
(Playing fields and community green spaces) (22 million for playing fields, £4.2 million for children's playgrounds, £4.2 million for innovative children's play projects). Children's play space


Sustrans
£7.4 m Making green spaces more2004
(Green routes, safe routes) acccessible for communities


Scotland
Scottish National Heritage and Forward Scotland £3.3 m (£3-50k)—  Recreational green space
—  Making green spaces
    more accessible for
    communities
2006


(Fresh Futures)
—  Sustainable communities


Highlands and Islands Enterprise
(Scottish Land Fund)
£10.8 m (£10-£250k)

The Scottish Land Fund scheme was established in Government policy directions to fund rural communities in Scotland
2007


Wales
Enfys Scheme£7.5m (£2-100k) —  Recreational green space2006
(Enfys Consortium,) —  Making green space
    more accessible for
    communities
—  Sustainable communities
Northern Ireland


(Creating Common Ground
£5.2 m (£3-£50k) —  Recreational green space2004
Consortium
(GCGC))
—  Making green space
    more accessible for
    communities
—  Sustainable communities


  A summary of each scheme is provided in the form of the small publicity booklets. (An Introduction to green spaces and sustainable communities).

Decision making mechanisms and awards

  The Fund has given different levels of authority to the schemes supported. Some Award Partners manage fully delegated grant programmes, that operate on an open application basis. Award partners delivering funding under these schemes manage the application, assessment and decision making process as well as monitoring and evaluation. Award partners delivering funding under umbrella schemes deliver a series of projects, which meet objectives and criteria set by the Fund, with each project supported, being subject to approval of the New Opportunities Fund. Umbrella schemes invite proposals and monitor and evaluate projects.

  Award Partners managing open grant schemes have undertaken due diligence investigations with the Fund, and meet the requirements and guidelines established for operation of New Opportunties Fund programmes, set in legislation (National Lottery Act 1998).

  A summary of decision making mechanisms and awards to date by scheme is given in the Table B:

Table B:

AWARD PARTNER DECISION MAKING MECHANISMS AND AWARDS TO DATE (AS OF 16.10.01)
SchemeAuthority Decision mechanismFrequency and published deadlines Awards
England
BTCV (People's Places)Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent assessment panel (NOF observer) Applications are considered at the assessment panel, which meets every two months. Two panels have been held to date. 10 awards made to date, representing:

£79,623
Countryside Agency (Doorstep Greens)Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) The Countryside Agency will create 200 Doorstep Greens, with a set number in each region. Funding panels will meet at least once a quarter. Proposals for project development grants under consideration.
English (Nature Wildspace!)Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) During 2001, the Panel will meet in April, June and September. Applications can be submitted at any time and will be referred to the next Panel meeting. 44 awards made so far, representing:

£1,101,832
Sustrans, (Green routes, safe routes)Umbrella scheme: Final decisions subject to approval from New Opportunities Fund Portfolio submitted to New Opportunities Fund. Projects are invited by Sustrans to bid. Expression of interests welcome at any time. It has been agreed that the total funding committed to Sustrans will support the following projects: 14 green routes, 30 Safe Routes to Stations, 12 Home Zone projects and Safe Routes to Schools (60 bike sheds and 50 walking buses).
Scotland
Scottish National Heritage and Forward Scotland (Fresh Futures) Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) The grants programme is open for applications from June 2001 until the end of March 2003. Deadlines are quarterly and decisions will take place within eight weeks. First panel awarded 7 grants: representing:

£143,951
Highlands and Islands Enterprise Scottish Land Fund Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) 22 awards made so far, representing:

£662,754
Wales
Enfys Scheme, (Enfys Consortium)Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) The Enfys Grants Advisory Panel will meet four times each year, normally October, January, April and July. First panel meeting planned for 30 October.
Northern Ireland
Creating Common Ground Consortium (GCGC) Open grant scheme: full decision making authority Independent grants panel (NOF observer) The consortium has arranged six grant panel meetings over the period that the programme will run (2001-04). First panel meeting planned for 14 November.




 
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