In my role as FACLT treasurer, I have to make sure that the FACLT’s finances are secure and that we use any funding we get in the best way we can. In this article, I want to set out the FACLT’s financial arrangements and in particular how it gets and uses grant funding from the government that enables it to do its work creating affordable homes for local people. I start with some information about the FACLT and then set out our funding successes so far and how we are using that funding. The FACLT’s funding arrangements are a bit complicated – I’ll try to make my explanation as straightforward as possible.
The FACLT and financial matters
FACLT is a Community Benefit Society and is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Its financial and accounting requirements are set out in The Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Anyone in the Frome community aged 16 years or over may apply to become a FACLT member and shareholder. Board members are elected by FACLT members at each AGM. They are all unpaid volunteers and the running costs of the organisation are kept to a minimum so that any grant funding we receive can be used to help provide housing for those in need in Frome. The board is required to report to members at the AGM on all the FACLT’s activities including the finances. Full details of the FACLT’s income and expenditure are given to members in the financial report at the AGM.
Our funding success so far
Fair Housing for Frome provided the impetus for setting up the FACLT and from the very start we sought help and advice from the Wessex Community Land Trust Project (WCLTP). Our relationship with WCLTP has been crucial to the progress we have made over the last two years and we believe our investment in this service is very good value for money.
With WCLTP guidance we successfully applied for two government grants in 2019; a Seedcorn grant of £3,700 from Groundworks UK; and a revenue grant from Homes England. Both grants come from agencies within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The Seedcorn grant programme is designed to support the early stages of a community-led housing group. In Frome we used it to set up the Trust, hold meetings with the public to explain and promote our purpose, create our membership and to enable us to communicate with our community.
The Homes England grant came from the Homes England Community Housing Fund. Homes England awards grants to support the development of community-led housing proposals to provide housing that is affordable at local income levels and that remains so for the foreseeable future. The grants encourage local people to take the lead in creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing developments. The grants are given for specific projects and are paid in stages when certain targets have been reached. The ends of these stages are called milestones.
When FACLT applied for a grant from the Homes England Community Housing Fund, the Fund was open for a two-year period and had less than 12 months still to run. Thankfully, it has recently been reinstated by the government. WCLTP suggested that we should make an application based on a 15-home project. Their success in guiding several other CLTs through similar projects enabled them to provide accurate costings for the various stages of pre-development and planning. The application was successful. During 2020 we’ve been actively searching for land, identifying various plots and discussing them with landowners.
Some final thoughts
So the financial workings of the FACLT are quite complicated as you can see. However, we are making excellent progress. We are using this funding as wisely as possible and to good effect and I will make sure I keep you up to date with any financial developments via future newsletters. Many thanks for your support!
Frome Area Community Land Trust