To seek approval on the government grant scheme policies that need to put in place, including changes to the Additional Restrictions Grant Discretionary Policy now that there is a further period of national restrictions as of 5 January 2021.
Jill Anderson spoke as Chairman of Cranford Sports and Fitness Club, Exmouth.
She stated the club had made an application under the ARG scheme for a grant under the special cases section back in December, just after the second lockdown and asked for consideration to be given to this application. She was acutely aware of the impact that the pandemic and resulting lockdowns had had on the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals and communities. The Club contributed an important and cost-effective role in supporting the local communities, the NHS and many other local organisations and individuals to recover from this immensely challenging pandemic.
Cranford Sports and Fitness Club was a true independent community amateur sports and fitness club that provided extensive support and facilities to worthwhile community groups and activities such as Help for Heroes, Parkinson’s support groups and disabled sport to name but a few. They provided jobs in the local community having 16 employees and 20 fitness instructors. They use all local companies for all its maintenance and business support and had over 1200 members (pre pandemic) ranging in age from 6 months to nearly 90 years of age. Governance and leadership were provided by an expert volunteer pro bono Board of Directors.
Cranford Sports and Fitness Club had exhausted the support available so far. They were asking for help us to survive this period through to completion of the vaccination programme.
The Service Lead for Revenues, Benefits, Customer Services and the Service Lead for Growth, Development and Prosperity presented the report which sought approval to launch further grant schemes as well as to make changes to the existing Additional Restrictions Grant policy. These were needed as a result of further period of national and local restrictions from 2 December 2020. There was an update on the various schemes the council had been running since going into national restrictions from 5 November 2020 including the grant schemes available whilst in Tier 2 and Tier 3.
Discussions included the following:
· The need for clarity on the role of the Councillor Panel in relation to the ARG scheme, for example to determine special case applications
· Local businesses cannot prosper until the whole supply change is up and running
· Leisure facilities need to be given due weight in consideration to these grants
· Acknowledgment to how tough things were for businesses at the moment therefore it was urgent to move ahead with the East Devon leisure Strategy
· Armed Forces personnel need the support offered by the Cranford Sports Club as well as young people with mental health issues
The Chair and Vice-Chair wished to thank Libby Jarrett, Andy Wood and their teams for dealing with and understanding all the government guidance with its complexities, and doing this additional work over the last year on behalf of the council which was very much appreciated.
1. To approve the LRSG (Closed) Addendum & the CBLP Scheme policies.
2. To delegate authority to the Service Lead for Revenues, Benefits, Customer Services & Corporate Fraud & Compliance to make any technical changes to the LRSG (C) Addendum and the CBLP policies.
3. To approve changes to the operation of the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme as outlined in the report.
4. To delegate authority to the Service Lead for Growth, Development & Prosperity in consultation with the Leader, Deputy Leader, Portfolio Holder for Finance and the S151 officer to make consequential changes to the ARG discretionary policy, in order to keep the scheme aligned with subsequent changes in government restrictions.
5. To allocate a further £925,680 under the ARG scheme to provide support to businesses impacted by local and national restrictions.
6. To delegate authority to Service Lead for Revenues, Benefits, Customer Services and Corporate Fraud & Compliance in consultation with Leader, Deputy Leader, Portfolio Holder for Finance and the S151 Officer to approve subsequent grant policies should we move back into local restrictions.
7. To encourage the constituency MPs to strenuously and vigorously lobby the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide meaningful and urgent support for those in the “excluded” group who are unable to make applications under our current grant policies; due to Central Government constraints.
To ensure that a quick response to a continuously changing landscape and the government funded grant schemes were deployed in a timely manner.