At a Tourism Alliance policy briefing session yesterday the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) team briefed us on the new round 4 Coastal Communities Fund across the UK, but with particular reference to England.
The immediate issue. During the briefing it was said that although 4 year’s worth of additional funding had been agreed (2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21) DCLG, in England at least, they were planning to roll the 4 years into just two bidding rounds with the potential, depending on progress made, for a smaller third round as a moping up exercise, presumably in 2020/21 (?).
Separate announcements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still due to be made sometime in June and no comment on whether the same approach would be adopted in any or all of the other home nations was made or (apologies) due to time constraints, were sought.
The DCLG plan might be known to everyone else in the coastal sector but it certainly came as news to me and news with potentially major planning and preparatory implications attached. I, as others might also be assuming, thought there would be 4 annual application opportunities in England between now and the end of the 4 year programme. The biannual approach now means that anyone missing the 30 June 2016 English application deadline for round 4 can’t now apply again for the fifth and potentially last major round until 2018/19 for funds that, if granted, will only be made available over the 2019/20 -2020/21 financial years. I think that is a fairly significant but and if known, an entirely manageable planning factor that coastal destinations in England and potentially elsewhere, need to be alerted to.
Details of the round 4 application process in England are currently available on the Big Lottery website, where news of and the material for bids in other home nations will also be posted in due course: https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/ccf
Future considerations. It is not unreasonable to suggest that coastal communities as a whole should be grateful that their particular funding needs have been recognized and that they have access to a separate funding mechanism that others have not. Having first gain and now retained CCF, there is still job of work to be done to argue for continued investment beyond 2020/21. That may not be an immediate priority for individual destinations but, for those directly involved in the strategic lobbying efforts around CCF it is worth noting now that we were also told that the percentage, albeit of a steadily increasing Crown Estates marine revenue, had been cut from the previous figure of 50% to 33%.
That is a major change which brings in to question some of the assumptions we have made around just how much money is being made available to each home nation over the next four years. The Chancellor’s headline announcement was for at least £90m over the period but for whom and therefore how much in total or each wasn’t and still isn’t entirely clear. It perhaps begs further searching questions of colleagues in DCLG and the other devolved administrations and it may also give us some food for thought on possible lobbying angles beyond simply fighting to retaining what had been a rapidly growing annual funding mechanism. These are thing we can start to discuss during Annual Conference in June (https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-2016/) and at future meetings thereafter.
None of this is intended to be critical of the UK and devolved Governments or DCLG as the coordinating department; all of whom have done sterling work, often again the odds, in securing and delivering the fund. All I am trying to do is make sure those who need to understand the changing practical circumstance understand the detail before the event and not after it.