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Southwark Council VCS Grants Review

Southwark Council has conducted a review of grants it is making to the local VCS.

Last Updated: 11 March 2022


As part of the Action Plan of Southwark Stands Together the local authority reviewed its grantmaking to Southwark VCS.

The Council Cabinet made the following decisions during its meeting on 1st February 2022:

1. That the findings of two independent reviews i) the Southwark Stands Together grants review be noted, that examined whether there are obstacles to Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups making successful grant applications (Appendix 1 of the report); and ii) the community investment review which looks at the effectiveness of funding to deliver outcomes (Appendix 2 of the report).

[Full Southwark Stands Together grants review]

[Full Community Investment Review Report]

2. That the allocation of an additional £400k in grant funding, with £200k of this to be available specifically for groups that self-identify as Black Asian and minority-led be approved. The funding will support our community organisations to recover from pandemic impacts, to thrive and self-organise, to strengthen networks, partnerships, and equalities infrastructure and support more inclusive and responsive service delivery. This funding is additional to the other funding which will remain available for all community groups as advertised.

3. That it be noted that organisations will be identified as Black Asian and minority ethnic led if the organisation self identifies as Black Asian or minority ethnic led and 75% of the governing body, ie board of trustees, directors, management committee, and 50% of the senior staff of the organisation, (key decisionmakers) self-identify as being from that specific community or identity.

4. That all grant and commissioning teams collect data about the protected characteristics not only of service users of organisations we are considering funding or commissioning, but also the composition of the board or management of an organisation, so we are able to identify who is leading the groups we fund and as well as those who are not successful in their applications or tenders.

5. That officers be tasked with building a database of Black, Asian and minority ethnic led organisations in the borough, so we are better able to include and act positively to encourage and support Black Asian and minority ethnic led groups to access funding opportunities.

6. That council officers, working with community representatives and the voluntary and community sector (VCS), will develop a funding prospectus for the council over the next nine months that will support the delivery of the Borough Plan. This will be presented to cabinet in autumn 2022 for approval. The prospectus will:

  • Apply council wide
  • Be created in partnership with our key VCS and health partners in two phases
  • Include a review of the current voluntary community sector (VCS) outcomes framework
  • In phase one we will focus on developing our priorities
  • In phase two we will work with our partners on how we will deliver the outcomes and priorities together.

The funding prospectus will also set out how we will address other issues that have emerged from both reviews and identify how council procurement processes can reflect the learning from this work, including:

  • How we support organisations grow and bid successfully to deliver larger programmes
  • How we involve Black Asian and minority ethnic community representatives in the grant making assessment process to make it more transparent and fair
  • How we can substitute the current colour blind approach to our funding for a more nuanced intersectional one.
  • How we remain informed by the data and evidence we are receiving across the council and embed flexibility.
  • How we can ensure that we continue to ring fence funding for Black Asian and minority ethnic led organisations beyond the programme described above.
  • That this grants programme be co-produced with community representatives including representatives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

Decision of the Leader of the Council

  • That approval of the criteria and award of grants for the pot of £400,000 and the £200,000 set aside for Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups be delegated to the cabinet member for equalities, neighbourhoods and leisure.

The review was divided into two stages:

Stage 1 of the review focused on grantmaking to Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups and was facilitated by Equinox Consulting.

The VCS was represented at this review by:

Stage 2 of the review was looking at how the council can better prioritise its investment in VCS services to deliver outcomes for Southwark communities and was facilitated by Rocket Science. 

The VCS was represented at this review by:

Updates on the review were available on the council website.

VCS Grants Review Terms of Reference (draft)

More information

For further information about Southwark Stands Together please contact SST@southwark.gov.uk.