Hounslow Council supports stronger communities with new Thriving Communities Strategy and streamlined funding pot

On Thursday 20 June the Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran, launched The Thriving Communities Strategy 2019 – 2023, approved by Cabinet on 19 March.

Published: Friday, 21st June 2019

Image of residents, councillors and partners at the Thriving Communities Strategy Launch.

This ambitious programme sets out how the council will work in partnership with our residents, Hounslow’s voluntary and community sector, other public bodies and businesses to deliver positive and lasting benefits for the many different communities across the borough.

In 2015 the council launched the Thriving Communities and VCSE Sector Strategy (2015-2019) which focused on building stronger local communities in which voluntary and community organisations play a leading role. This was the first of its kind for Hounslow and one of the few examples of an integrated strategy being adopted by a local authority in England as a way of supporting stronger communities and creating a more effective voluntary and community sector. We have come a long way in achieving this goal and the new strategy will build on the successful outcomes of the past four years. 

The new strategy has been developed in partnership with Hounslow’s residents and community groups, VCSE organisations and other stakeholders, whose views were heard through a thorough research programme involving workshops, focus groups and interviews to ensure the new strategy has the support and buy-in of the wider community and addresses the challenges faced by individuals, communities and VCSE service providers over the next four years.

But these are challenging times. We face austerity in public sector funding, increased demand on council services and increased competition for our resources. The financial climate for all public sector organisations has been, and will continue to be, harsh for the foreseeable future.

Hounslow Council has had to make £92 million in savings over the last four years and needs to find further savings of £29 million by 2021.  This unprecedented level of cuts has forced us to review the way we provide services and support residents and this new strategy aims to address the challenges faced by individuals, communities and VCSE service providers in the 2019 - 2023 period.

Councillor Steve Curran was joined by Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Workforce, Peter Matthew, Strategic Director for Housing, Planning and Communities and Debbie Brennar, Chair of the Hounslow Community Network to present and discuss the Thriving Communities Strategy with representatives of the community at the launch.

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said:

“Hounslow is a very diverse borough. It changes in all sorts of ways as you travel through it from Bedfont to Chiswick. What doesn’t change is that the borough is made up of communities that are the bedrock that hold Hounslow together.  We have been going through ten years of austerity, without the support of our communities this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Hounslow Council said:

“I’m really proud of what has been achieved so far in developing the Thriving Communities Strategy, and look forward to helping deliver it. We want to invite the whole community to be involved, all groups however small. Everyone can play their part in putting together the building blocks to create thriving, sustainable and resilient communities with a strong and influential community voice.”

The Thriving Communities Strategy is available on our website, here: www.hounslow.gov.uk/ThrivingCommunities 

Peter Matthew, Strategic Director for Housing, Planning and Communities at Hounslow Council, presented the proposal to provide a new funding pot for communities – the Thriving Communities Fund:

Hounslow Council agreed at Cabinet, 11 June, to establish a single application process and source of funding for community groups who apply for grants from us. The Thriving Communities Fund will combine money from the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy, Hounslow Housing's Community Initiatives Funding, and the existing Small and Communities Grants. In total this is £1.9 million a year, which we will distribute to projects developed by residents and community organisations.

Creating a single fund will enhance openness and accessibility; increase value for money and quality of outcomes through improved competition; and help us to coordinate the distribution of funding across the borough. Larger economies of scale will also allow us to provide a dedicated Thriving Communities Fund officer, to support groups with their applications and the delivery of approved projects.  

We are putting together some initial thoughts on how we think the grant scheme might work, and will consult on this in due course. If you would be interested in taking part in this consultation please email community.development@hounslow.gov.uk and we will make sure we let you know when the consultation begins 

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “We are delighted to be providing £1.9m a year in funding for projects initiated by residents and community organisations. Combining the various pots of money into one streamlined fund, along with the additional support provided through a dedicated Thriving Communities Fund Officer will enable the application process to be much easier.

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