Breckland Neighbourhood Plan funding: 2022 - Guidance Notes

1. National Funding

1.1   In April 2022 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced that it was extending the 4 year support programme (2018-22) for a fifth year into 2022/23. From April 2022, grant funding is available for the preparation of Neighbourhood plans. There are two different types of grants that an area could be eligible for:

1.2   All groups undertaking a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order (NDO) are eligible to apply for up to £10,000 in basic grant. Grants can be used for a range of activities to support the plan or order-making process. These are as follows:

  • Training sessions for members of the steering group
  • Help with putting together a project plan
  • Help with developing the evidence base and analysing it to identify issues and aims for the plan or order
  • Undertaking a housing survey
  • Engaging a facilitator to help with capacity building, for community consultation or workshops
  • Developing a website
  • Costs associated with planning and undertaking public engagement and consulting on the plan or order
  • Engaging a planning expert to help draft policies
  • Support for making site allocations
  • Contribution to required specialist studies, such as housing needs assessments, ecology surveys, including Phase 1 habitat surveys, or transport if they will directly inform policies within the neighbourhood plan.
  • Contribution to undertaking a strategic environmental assessment (SEA)
  • Support with undertaking the six-week pre-submission consultation
  • Support with collecting and analysing responses from the six-week pre- submission consultation and deciding how to modify the neighbourhood plan or order
  • Help with understanding whether the plan or order is ready for examination (meeting the Basic Conditions and other legal requirements)
  • Provide training in the legal requirements which will be tested at the examination stage
  • Venue hire
  • Publicity materials
  • Printing
  • Virtual meeting platforms
  • Online survey tools
  • Improvement to website accessibility

1.3   There are several items of expenditure which are not eligible for a grant under this programme. These are as follows:

  • Any general administration costs, such as arranging and minuting steering group meetings
  • Funding salaried posts or compensating for loss of earnings, this includes paying additional hours for an existing member of staff and / or employing someone on a casual or freelance basis at an agreed hourly rate.
  • Paying for volunteer time, however reimbursement of reasonable out of pocket expenses is eligible
  • Reimbursing expenditure which has already been incurred
  • Funding for issues which are not within the remit of a neighbourhood plan - for example highways issues. Many transport matters cannot be dealt with through a neighbourhood plan. For example, work that aims to provide solutions to traffic management on existing roads (e.g. new traffic lights), or work associated with making a case to change speed limits
  • Capital items - generally this means that a purchase results in owning a lasting asset such as computers, photocopiers or digital projectors
  • Any other activity which is not directly associated with developing the Neighbourhood Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order
  • General contingency for unknown costs or cost overruns.

1.4   DLUHC also provides an additional grant of £8,000 if any one of the following is met:

  • Allocating sites for housing in the neighbourhood plan
  • Proposing to include design codes in the neighbourhood plan
  • All groups writing a Business led Neighbourhood Plan
  • All groups preparing a plan for a cluster of three or more parish councils
  • Neighbourhood plans for areas which have a population of over 25,000 people
  • Groups based in areas which have a high level of deprivation (where 30% or more of the neighbourhood area or population is in the 20% most deprived areas in England according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation).

1.5   This gives a maximum total amount of £18,000 to apply for from the programme.

1.6   The grant ceiling applies to the whole period from April 2015 to March 2023.. For example, if a grant of £2,000 was made in the 2015-18 programme and £3,000 in 2019-20 then an application could be made for up to £5,000 in 2022-23. You can only apply for funds that will be spent before 31 March 2023 and any funds unspent at this time will need to be returned.

1.7   If a Group is updating a neighbourhood plan that has already been 'made' by the Local Planning Authority, then it can apply for the grant allowances again. Any grant support or technical support received in making the previous plan is not taken in to account, with your full allowances 'reset'.

1.8   Parish and Town Councils are able to claim back VAT under HRMC Notice 749 which applies to members of the government family. Therefore, VAT should not be included in your application budget breakdown and removed from any quote or fees included.

1.9   Applicants will need to provide detailed breakdowns of the estimated costs for the support required. There are two elements: professional fees and other project costs. The activities applied for should ideally be those which will start at least one month after the submission of the application (to allow time for the assessment and grants offer and acceptance process to be completed).

2.   Breckland Funding Background

2.1    At a Cabinet Meeting on 24th February 2015 it was agreed that money would be available from the Communities Reserve (Developing Stronger Communities element) for the Neighbourhood Plan grant match funding for town and parish councils. Breckland Council - Minutes of Cabinet meeting held 24.02.2015

2.2   The resolution was that Breckland Council would match fund 50% of the successful bid (up to a maximum of £4,000 per submission) for these councils provided they have pre-notified Breckland Council of their intention to bid for national funding.

2.3   This figure was based on the Locality (the organisation that awards national funding on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government) Grant which was initially £8,000.

2.4   On 3rd April 2016 this funding increased to £9,000, and the subsequent Blue Forms regarding match funding suggested that the amount had increased to £4,500 (due to the Locality increase) but it still referred to the 24 February 2015 decision. On 26th May 2020, this national funding increased to £10,000, but as there has been no claim since 2018, there has been no formal reference to this latest increase or decision to increase the 50% match funding to £5,000.

3.   Proposals for Future funding

3.1   The following is proposed for parishes and town councils preparing a neighbourhood Plan for the first time

  • A grant of up to 50% of the value of the basic grant made by DLUHC (up to £5,000)
  • Evidence of a successful bid to DLUHC to be provided by the relevant parish or town council
  • Where there are multiple parishes, the grant will only be payable to the lead Parish or Town Council
  • Applicants will need to provide detailed breakdowns of the estimated costs for the support required (to reflect DLUHC requirement)
  • The grant ceiling applies to the whole period from April 2015 to March 2023 (to reflect DLUHC requirement)
  • Grants to be used by March 31 2023 or repaid to the Council (to reflect DLUHC requirement)
  • Applications to be submitted by email and signed by the Chair of the relevant parish or town council
  • Grants will be paid to the relevant parish or town council

Plans being updated

3.2   Some Parishes, who already have 'made' a Neighbourhood Plan, are considering whether to review and update (modify) them, even there is no formal requirement to do this, although they can become out of date and other factors (material considerations), such as more recent research, can be given more weight. However, the original funding agreement did not address this update situation.

3.3   There are three types of updates that a Neighbourhood Plan could be subject to. A minor (non-material) one where Breckland could make the changes under the current regulations. A material one which make changes to the plan and would require an Examination. Where this change is a significant or substantial one that would change the nature of the plan, a Referendum would also be required.

3.4    The amount a Local Planning Authority can claim for updating a Neighbourhood Plan will differ according to the type of update (modifications) proposed. Only where a Referendum is required, can the full £20,000 be claimed. Where just an Examination is required, £10,000 can be claimed, but nothing where there is just a minor change. These grants can only be claimed once every five years.

3.5   Furthermore, it is noted that DHULC are allowing grant applications for updating a plan that would not take into account any grants received in making the previous plan.

3.6   The following is proposed for parishes and town councils wishing to update a neighbourhood plan.:

  • A grant from Breckland of up to 50% of the value of the basic grant for an updating of a plan made by DLUHC (up to £5,000)
  • Evidence of a successful bid to DLUHC to be provided by the relevant parish or town council
  • Where there are multiple parishes, the grant will only be payable to the lead Parish or Town Council
  • Applicants will need to provide detailed breakdowns of the estimated costs for the support required (to reflect DLUHC requirement)
  • Grants to be used by March 31 2023 or repaid to the Council (to reflect DLUHC requirement)
  • Applications to be submitted by email and signed by the Chair of the relevant parish or town council
  • Grants will be paid to the relevant parish or town council

The Council reserves the right to review the provision of grants this if the legislation / regulation regarding the preparation of Neighbourhood plans changes as a consequence of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. 

Last updated: 15/06/2022 08:28:40