Reason for the decision
As a result of the latest national lockdown and the new variant of the virus, additional and on-going needs have been identified that the Council, working with partners is keen to respond to, ensuring the continued support for residents and businesses in Kent. It is proposed that these areas of support utilise an initial £10m of the currently unallocated Covid-19 Emergency Grant Funding.
The Government has provided significant grant funding to Kent County Council to support the local response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Council has worked with a range of partners to allocate funding to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Council’s services, to meet its public health obligations and to support those residents, families and businesses most in need of support since the start of the pandemic. In addition to a number of specific grants, a total of £95m Covid-19 Emergency Grant Funding has been received since March 2020.
Building on the support provided to date, the main aims of the funding are as follows:
• To ensure those who most need help receive it, with a focus on equality of access, and consistency of approach to assessing eligibility across the county;
• To provide guidance and advice that supports those seeking help to improve their situation and avoid future dependency;
• To use this opportunity to improve the system for addressing financial hardship across the county, and preparing for what lies ahead
• To support local businesses and the self-employed that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
• To ensure that the funding is used for time limited activity with a clear exit strategy in recognition that it is one-off funding
In order to be able to respond to the changing environment, it is proposed to have a flexible approach to the deployment of the grant funding, to allow for it to be used dynamically where it will be most effective. In order to ensure appropriate use of the grant funding, the support provided will take an evidence-based approach.
As there is already strong partnership working in place across the county and a wide range of effective support measures that have already been implemented, it is proposed to build on those arrangements and utilise the grant to respond to the latest national lockdown and the impact of the new variant. The four categories of spend and the proposed allocations are as follows:
a) £4m to support low income households and households in financial distress, including through council services such as the Kent Support and Assistance Service, district and borough councils, voluntary and community sector organisations, such as Kent Community Foundation and utility companies such as South East Water.
b) £3m to provide a range of support for businesses and the self-employed not in receipt of government funding, including through council services, district and borough councils, voluntary and community sector organisations, and business support organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
c) £2.5m to tackle digital poverty, working with schools and colleges, district and borough councils and voluntary and community sector organisations.
d) £500k to match-fund crowdfunded community projects and initiatives that support local communities in responding to and recovering from the impact of the pandemic.
The proposed decision will support the following elements of the Interim Strategic Plan:
• Stand up for Kent’s residents
• Target resource where it has the greatest impact
• Empower people with the right skills to compete and succeed
• Support children and young people with the highest needs
• Support older and vulnerable adults to maintain a good quality of life
• Invest in effective prevention
• Support the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Notice of proposed decision first published: 08/02/2021
This decision will be taken under urgency procedures.
Reason for urgency:
The deployment of the available grant funding is required urgently the address the many challenges facing a range of Kent residents due to the ongoing pressure of the pandemic and the latest national lockdown in particular. Compliance with the standard Executive Decision timeframes would significantly delay the delivery of vital support to residents in need across the county.
Decision due: 8 Feb 2021 by Leader of the Council
Reason: Urgent Decision
Lead member: Leader of the Council
Lead director: Zena Cooke
Department: Strategic & Corporate Services
Contact: Debra Exall, Strategic Relationship Adviser Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01622 696115.
Chair and Spokespeople of the Scrutiny Committee and relevant Cabinet Committees invited to submit comments for inclusion on the published record of decision.
Financial implications: £10m allocation of COVID grant funding. There are no direct financial implications on the Council’s revenue budget as the allocation is grant funding received from the government to support the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The activities and projects funded by the Emergency Grant Funding are time limited and will not be a recurring cost to the Council. Any additional staff resourcing required as a result of activities and projects funded by the grant are eligible to be charged to the grant.
Legal implications: Funding will be used in accordance with the funding framework and the Council will apply appropriate legal mechanisms where necessary, as part of issuing or deploying any grant monies to ensure any partners or third parties in receipt of grant funding remain compliant. The Council will record, monitor and report on the deployment of the Emergency Grant Funding, in accordance with its formal budget monitoring and reporting arrangements. Specific legislation to assist in outbreak control of Covid-19 in the UK includes the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection Regulations 2010 (as amended).
Equalities implications: Low to none negative impact on protected characteristics. High Level EqIA published as part of decision. Project level equality assessment built into scheme arrangements.