A REPORT being considered by one of Carmarthenshire County Council’s own scrutiny committees has laid bare the extent of the authority’s confusion over exactly where money goes which is intended for collaborative projects with and grants to third sector organisations.
Citing duplication and incoherence in the council’s own approach and blaming, in part, the over bureaucratic systems insisted upon by the Welsh Government, the most startling part of the report reveals discrepancies between what has been reported as third sector spend, what the council’s own information is telling them about that spend and what organisations are actually receiving from the authority.
The failure to control third sector spending featured prominently in the recent court case involving disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. While there is no allegation of corrupt practices relating to third sector spending at Carmarthenshire County Council, close scrutiny is bound to follow as to who is benefiting from the Council’s largesse and exactly what their relationship is with different Council departments.
The report also reveals that:
- The ‘management’ of all these funds has led to some organisations receiving multiple funding from departments across the Authority.
- A number of the organisations operate under aliases making it difficult to understand the whole funding picture to them.
During a TIC Programme Board meeting in September 2013 Wendy Walters, then Head of Economic Development, was asked to investigate how much money the Authority spent annually on the Third Sector community. This was as a result of anecdotal information received about a lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus in this area.
A report presented in April 2014, revealed that in one division of the county council alone there was:
- A number of ‘historical’ reasons for relationship and spend with some external organisations with little or no current appropriate rationale.
- Lack of knowledge and understanding across Divisions with respect to ’joining up’ of spend, i.e. two or more Divisions spending with same providers, operating separate and not standardised contracting, administrative and monitoring processes, resulting in duplication of effort, inconsistencies, etc.
- Evidence of 3rd sector organisations operating across the county with the same or very similar remits, however contracting separately with various Council Depts. Potential for efficiencies, by removing duplication of negotiating, commissioning, contracting, monitoring and evaluating tasks within both CCC and 3rd sector organisations.
- Some evidence of CCC managers attempting to encourage and support the 3rd sector partners to engage in collaborative activities, to deliver better ‘joined up’ services. This work is meeting with considerable resistance due to the effects of funding systems that encourage fragmentation.
Initial information suggested that the authority facilitated funding in excess of £19m to the sector during 2013/14 and that the figure was likely to be similar in 14/15. There were in excess of 1,000 organisations and individuals registered as being in receipt of some form of funding from the authority. This ranged in size from grants of less than £100 to over £1m.
At its meeting on the 20th March 2015, the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee unanimously resolved that “a report relating to the work undertaken in relation to its spend on third sector services be provided at the next meeting.”
That report reveals that at the start of the project £19,217,800 was paid to voluntary and community organisations, this was during the 2013/14 financial year. The figure for 14/15 was £16,858,803.
In relation to those cuts, the report reveals the reduction target for this project is £1m during 2015/16
Included within the recent round of budget consultations were a number of recommendations relating to finances within the Third Sector. This equated to £608,000 in 15/16, £408,000 for 16/17 and £179,000 for 17/18.
In addition to the figures above the officer working group have been reviewing all contracts and in consultation with the organisations have identified further areas of reductions.
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children
Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.
Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real. Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.
Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help. My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.
‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’
Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge. Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund.
‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most. I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’
If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb
Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package
A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.
People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.
However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.
That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.
Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.
“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.
“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.
“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”
The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.
The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.
Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.
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