The Scottish Government announced last week that the People and Communities Fund has been boosted, but the Scottish Community Alliance argues that the fund is mis-named: it’s still government, not people or communities, that leads the regeneration process.
The £9.4 million People and Communities Fund, which promotes and supports community-led regeneration initiatives across Scotland, is now accepting new applications for 2015/16.
The budget for the overarching fund has been increased by £1.5 million, with a refreshed focus on the promotion of social inclusion and tackling poverty, including the mitigation of welfare reform.
The Fund will continue to invest in community anchor organisations that deliver local regeneration activity and promote change in our most disadvantaged communities.
The Fund will also support a wide range of initiatives including improving financial capability, reducing the number of workless households, increasing the range of services delivered from local facilities, increasing the number of people taking up volunteering opportunities and healthy eating initiatives.
Announcing the new funding round last week, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Since 2012 the People and Communities Fund has provided vital support for many community-led organisations, enabling them to create real change within their own communities as well as tangible improvements to people’s lives.
“I am delighted to announce that not only is the next funding round open for 2015/16 applications, but that the budget for the overarching Fund has also increased by £1.5 million. This will allow us to provide £9.4 million to support local people and communities.
“The Fund is targeted at organisations rooted in their local communities. These organisations are best placed to encourage wider involvement in local regeneration activities to ensure long-term impact and sustainability.
“As part of our partnership approach, the Fund has also been refocused to enable us to better align our community funding programmes across government and to support community-led regeneration even more effectively.”
However the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA), an umbrella body for more than 1200 community groups across Scotland, disagrees that this regeneration process is genuinely ‘community-led’, and while welcoming the additional funding, SCA argues that the People and Communities Fund is another example of a ‘top down’ approach to community regeneration.
In the latest issue of the Local People Leading newsletter, SCA said: “When the Scottish Government announced in 2011 that its approach to regeneration was going to be more community led, it met with widespread approval. It was a recognition that outcomes are always better if local people are in control of how their communities are regenerated.
“But the recent announcement of increased funding for 2015/16, while welcome, also stipulated what the new funds are to be focussed on. While no one would disagree with mitigating the impact of welfare reform, isn’t the principle of community led regeneration being undermined somewhat?”
More information on the People and Communities Fund is available – and community anchor organisations can make applications – by visiting http://www.scotland.gov.uk/pcf
The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday 31 October.