The Scottish Government, supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), is set to launch the new £18.9 million Aspiring Communities Fund to support the most disadvantaged communities across Scotland to tackle poverty and inequality.
This challenge fund is currently expected to run from January 2017 to December 2018. The aim of this funding is to strengthen communities, increase levels of economic activity, stimulate inclusive growth, and support local service provision and inclusion by:
- Enabling communities to design and establish new or enhanced services addressing poverty and inequalities;
- Supporting new staff posts within community organisations to increase levels of economic activity, local service provision and inclusion, and enhance community resilience; and
- Accelerating the implementation of projects and services delivering longer lasting community-led solutions.
The fund will be open to applications from community bodies, including community anchor organisations, third sector and other community organisations that are established to promote or improve the interests of communities in an area.
Fundamental to the programme will be a requirement for applicants to clearly demonstrate alignment with local authority and Community Planning Partnership plans, including highlighting critical partnerships and steps taken to enable, enhance and/or complement delivery of locality plans whilst avoiding duplication of activity. This collaborative approach will inform how we invest in communities to help them deliver outcomes that meet local priorities.
The fund, which will support delivery of the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, also reinforces our commitment to empowering communities and engagement. In addition, the fund will contribute to the achievement of the Scottish ESF Operational Programme targets for:
- Community based or community services supported
- New childcare places available
- Deprived or fragile communities supported
And Aspiring Communities Fund targets for:
- Increase in earned turnover of supported organisations
- New or improved community owned assets (capital for acquisition from other non ESF sources).
The Scottish Government will be holding several stakeholder events in a number of locations throughout Scotland in February 2017 to provide further information to coincide with launch of the fund.
The dates and venues for these events will be published on the Scottish Government website alongside further details of the fund so please check it regularly for updates.