Funding available for community projects - apply now

BC reader Richard has spotted a pot of money available to fund small scale community projects in the area covered by Lewisham Homes (the organisation that manages Lewisham Council-owned homes). Here are the details:

The Lewisham Homes Community Improvement Competitive fund has a total budget of £39,200 which was agreed by residents as part of the Residents Business Plan.

Residents can apply for grants of up to £5000 to improve their local area or community. Lewisham Homes residents have been actively involved in setting up the fund, setting the criteria and ensuring that it is accessible to all residents across the Lewisham Homes area.

Leaseholders may be recharged for works in line with their lease, this will be assessed on a scheme by scheme basis and communicated with all residents.

You can apply for up to £5000 to fund your project. All funds need to be spent by the end of March 2011 so it’s important to remember that your project must be complete by this date. To enable all groups to apply, monies will not be paid into individual accounts and will be held and managed by Lewisham Homes. Lewisham Homes residents should be the main beneficiaries of applications.

What they will not fund:
  • bids where planning applications are required
  • bids where major works are required
Following the judging process, Lewisham Homes will work with you to deliver the project. This will include the use of Lewisham Homes own resources to ensure Health and Safety standards are adhered to and value for money is achieved.

Timescale for applications:

All applications need to be received by: 27 August 2010.


Anonymous said...

Would the garden work around Brockley Station been eligible for this.

lewisham leaseholder said...

Initially it sounds great but I fear is potentially divisive, by the fact that many proposals would lead to charges to leaseholders. What hope for the community spirit if tenants support a scheme and leaseholders oppose it because of cost?

TriciaD said...

Improving Luxmore Gardens would be an ideal proposal for this. Is anyone already developing a bid? Anyone interested in developing one? I would be happy to help and/or have a go!!

TJ(O) said...

I think this funding is only for residents of Lewisham Homes.

The actual concept is somewhat tricky - if a tenant puts forward a project to improve their housing and/or immediate environment, the tenant will not have to pay (it will be funded) but the leaseholder will have to contribute a share. Therefore there is no financial disincentive for the tenant to propose any project. So we will have neighbour against neighbour on this one.

Sounds a bit like milking the leaseholders for community project finance. Fine if Lewisham Housing wants to do this - but there should be no financial impact for either tenant or leaseholder.

Anonymous said...

Although £39,200 wont go far.

lb said...

"Fine if Lewisham Housing wants to do this - but there should be no financial impact for either tenant or leaseholder"

It does explicitly state that no major works would be considered, which according to the legal definition means - in practice - that no leaseholder would contribute more than £250.

TJ(O) said...

Each leaseholder must pay up to £250 foe each job - there could be multiple.

But more importantly - why should leaseholders cough up for Lewisham Homes PR friendly community projects ?

Brockley Nick said...

Would leaseholders not get value from the projects too? We're talking about small scale things like clearing rubbish tips and tidying up bits of derelict land outside people's houses. Presumably leaseholders would only be required to pay if there was a direct benefit to them? Or have I misunderstood?

lb said...

Well, what it says is that leaseholders "may be recharged in line with their lease".

This means that if the work in question is an improvement, renewal or repair to their block or to the estate it sits in, then they may be recharged. As a general principle many standard public-sector leases do not specify recharging for improvements, only for repairs or renewals, but YMMV.

I doubt a leaseholder would have to "cough up" for a "community project" if the project didn't affect their block directly, as there are few leases which would permit this kind of thing.

lb said...

And there is an argument, of course, that small-scale improvements to its immediate environment can lead to a corresponding increase in the value of a leaseholder's flat.

lewisham leaseholder said...

There has been a lot of confusion over this. We have been told in the past (eg with the recent 'resident-led' improvement scheme) that even improvements to our immediate environment 'could' be charged back to us. On Crossfields estate where they built a ball park for kids, the initial information suggested that leaseholders would have to contribute, but when the tenants & residents association queried it, they were told it would not be charged back. Clarity is needed to ensure bidders have the right information in the first place so that they can fully understand the implications.

TJ(O) said...

Yes lb all very well - but then the projects have to be agreed upon and decided. There are a lot of pensioners and people on fixed incomes who are leaseholders, and to use the argument that a project may result in a rise in the value of their place is irreleveant as they would not be thinking of selling.

Lewisham Leaseholder is right - it is not clear. Those who are experiencing this LB, are finding that we are being asked to cough up for community projects or 'improvements' that, if the tenants were paying for them, they might not think necessary at all.

lb said...

Lewisham leaseholder:

As I said, it's simple. Check your lease and see what you are required to pay for. Nearly any decent housing lawyer would identify a new ball park as an 'improvement' (assuming no such park was already present) and, citing caselaw, would thus be able to tell you whether the Council would be permitted to recharge you. This is part of the reason why councils often have separate funds available for such 'improvements', rather than recharging them through service charges and rent: repairing or renewing something is one thing, making a new something is quite a different kettle of fish in terms of public sector finance.


One thing I think needs to be made clear is that according to the Council's information the money will be administered centrally. This would seem to suggest it's offset against the overall cost of the project, which means that in effect it would reduce leaseholders' bills for any repair work carried out (repainting, for example). It may therefore be to a leaseholder's advantage to support such an application as it would be a way of getting money knocked off work which would eventually be done and recharged anyway, via a normal service charge.

Given that "improvements", on the other hand, cannot generally be recharged to leaseholders as I've said above, to represent this as the tenants getting stuff done and charged to the leaseholders' accounts is in itself somewhat divisive. Councils have little appetite for legal action when their rights are unclear, and I strongly doubt they would attempt to recharge for improvement works if it was pointed out to them that the leases do not permit it. The LVT would pick up on such a thing very quickly.

A supplementary question: does Lewisham use a standard lease?

Monkeyboy said...

All of the above is one reason why I stretched to buying a house as opposed to a decent flat with a share of the lease. I was tired of all the incedental fees that kept appearing, including £300k for new lifts.

TJ(O) said...

LB - Lewisham's leases are varied (we've been seeing them a lot recently at the Brockley Leaseholders Association); and yes your points about improvements are valid - but it still does not stop them from trying to put them through.

I'm not sure about the council having little appetite for legal action - currently there is an ongoing case with the LVT that amongst other things, concerns improvements being billed to leaseholders.

I'm afraid we are not being divisive - there are regular tenant meetings (note tenant) that are not advertised to leaseholders where the tenants are invited to come up with ideas for improvements and also repairs.This may be case of where you have to live it to appreciate what is happening

Ladywell Leaseholder said...

I can't agree with LB on this one - this is clearly about community projects (not service charge repairs) to 'improve'; and there are valid concerns being raised that leaseholders (including pensioners)could be charged for the improvement projects. Even Lewisham Homes has raised the possibility of that being the case. I think TJ(O) is quite right when he says that leaseholders may be asked to 'cough up'.

Recently Leaseholders have been charged for replacing windows that were in decent repair to UPVC windows, under the guise of the environmental benefit (heat loss)under the Decent Homes Standard. To most people this would be seen as an improvement but not to the council who see it as a repair; it is being fought at the LVT.

I think it is all very well for LB to tell us what should happen. I think we know that already. The posters on here are telling you what does happen.

Anonymous said...

if each housing estate had a vegetable garden and fruit trees cared for by people living on the estates it would help community building and be rewarding for those involved.
The money could help start up such a project.

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