Bedford Borough Council says they’re struggling to give away cash

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Sometimes trying to give out grants is like “flogging a dead horse”, a senior Bedford Borough councillor has said.

On Wednesday (11 June), the Trustees of the House of Industry Estate Management Committee considered the draft annual report, which included a statement of account for 2023/2024.

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After the report was presented to the trustees, Cllr Hilde Hendrickx (Lib Dem, Riverfield) said: “I noticed that for the past year [£177,475] was dispersed in grants, which is a lot less than the available amount for grants, [£303,138], and less than we dispersed the previous year.

“Given that these are grants for hardship, and people in need, etc., I find it hard to see why we didn’t manage to disperse more of the grants.

“Is it the quality of the applications we are getting or are we just not getting the applications in? And if we’re not getting the applications in, are we sufficiently publicising the availability of those grants? Because I feel that this money should be used for its purpose.”

Cllr Graeme Coombes (Conservative, Wixams & Wilstead) the portfolio holder for finance & corporate services, said he’d seen this in other areas, such as the ward grant scheme.

“I’ve seen it with parish councils where they have grants that they award for charitable purposes as well,” he said.

“It’s a very odd situation bearing in mind we all know money is short and things are tight and people are always in need of money.

“But there seems to be a disconnect. Because when there are pots of funding available it does sometimes seem like you’re flogging a dead horse, to coin a phrase, in terms of actually trying to get people to take it up.

“Sometimes despite publicising it people don’t come to you,” he said.

The House of Industry Estate is a charitable trust which is administered by the council.

Assistance is available to applicants throughout the year subject to funds being available, and grants are for voluntary, community and charitable organisations.

More information on applying for a grant can be found on the council’s website.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter