Merton approves new funding regime for community projects

Merton Council agreed last week to create a new funding regime that will support the promotion of civic pride in the borough, including increased funding for the voluntary and community sectors (VCS).

The new ‘Civic Pride Fund – Investing in Neighbourhoods’ will replace the previous ‘Neighbourhoods Fund’ and will make funding decisions based on three guiding principles: that projects nurture civic pride; build towards a sustainable future; and help to create a borough of sport.

The fund will distribute Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy Funding (NCIL), which is estimated to be around £750,000 this year, and is due open for bids for five weeks from October 3.

The levy has been collected by the council since 2014 and is a community funding programme that uses money from developers.

Merton has already received £6.3 million which has been earmarked for neighbourhood projects, with almost 90% of this funding approved or spent under the previous Neighbourhood Fund and the Ward Allocation Scheme.

Projects that have benefited from the levy include: neighbourhood shopping parade improvements; the Library of Things; the Community Fridge; enhancements at recreation grounds across the borough; the redevelopment of Polka Theatre; and a community arts venue at Cricket Green School, among others.

Cabinet also approved the creation of the ‘Civic Pride – Supporting the Voluntary and Community Sector’ programme under the umbrella of the new fund. This will replace the current Strategic Partner Programme and will reflect Merton’s commitment to investing in VCS infrastructure to support our local communities.

Cllr Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “We’re looking forward to investing in a wide range of projects and organisations under the new Civic Pride funds.

“I’m delighted that we are giving more money than ever before to our voluntary and community sector for essential services that support our residents, as well as investing in local projects that rebuild pride in Merton. This funding will include support for initiatives that help us to build a sustainable future and achieve our ambitions to be a borough of sport.”

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