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Councillors approve additional funds for community COVID-19 response

11 September 2020

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Health and Community Committee have approved the allocation of further funding provided by the Department for Communities, to enable the delivery of a range of community support and recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Committee received an update at its monthly meeting last night on a tranche of new funding provisions announced by the Communities Minister for local Councils, to assist them in their efforts to support community organisations in their ongoing work to help those most in need.

The funding comprises £1.75m in additional contribution to the COVID-19 Community Support Fund to be distributed through local Councils to grassroots voluntary and community sector groups; £750,000 for the COVID-19 Access to Food Fund to help shape any future emergency response; and £700,000 towards the COVID-19 Financial Inclusion Fund to assist those adversely impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Of the overall pot, Council has been provided with a Letter of Offer for £280,950 for the Second Tranche of the COVID-19 Community Support Fund. The allocations to each Council area for the COVID 19 Financial Inclusion Fund and the COVID-19 Access to Food Programme are yet to be announced.

At the meeting members were given an outline of the Council's support for community resilience groups to date. Members took the opportunity to commend the cohesive approach to the crisis taken by Council and its community partners in the Local Growth Partnerships, who played such a vital role in coordinating and delivering the community response to the COVID-19 emergency. And they stressed the importance of continuing to support these groups as they work on their community recovery plans and evaluate the approaches taken to date.

Members approved the recommendation to approve an allocation of £20,500 from the second round of the COVID-19 Community Support allocation to provide sufficient finance to fund all of the Community Centre Venues for the period Jan 2021 to March 2021.

An allocation of £101,253.74 was also agreed to fund all Community Support Fund applications scoring over the threshold.  In order to assist groups with cash flow at this time of emergency, groups will be provided with a 50% payment in advance, with a further 30% following verification and 20% on project completion.

An allocation of £20,000 will be issued to each of the eight Local Growth Partnerships to prepare and deliver COVID-19 Recovery Plans. Each of the Growth Partnerships will be provided with a 50% payment in advance with a further 30% following mid-term verification and 20% on final verification.

Speaking after the meeting Chair of the Health and Community Committee Alderman Andrew McKane welcomed the funding news. "I am delighted to see this further funding announcement of support from the Department. Significant resources have been channelled into the community response to COVID-19 by local Councils, and unfortunately it's likely there will continue to be significant demand for support in the coming months.

"In order to sustain the level of assistance for grassroots groups to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in local communities we will have to continue this momentum for some time to come. We will continue to work closely with all our partners and the Department to source, review and deliver support where it's most needed."