Grants system ‘lottery in the worst sense of the word’

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Three South Yorkshire councils are submitting a joint bid for cash from a £22m Government fund designed to help tackle the surge in knife crime which is blighting many communities – though the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner has criticised the “random” way cash will be allocated.

The bid for a grant is being made through the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire and if successful would span two financial years, meaning the first award would have to be spend by the end of March to qualify for next year’s cash.

Bids must be submitted soon an an announcement on the successful candidates will be made in November, leaving only a short period to get schemes up and running.

Money from the fund is intended to be spent on early intervention projects, work to try to steer young people away from the knife culture and serious violence, a trend which has escalated quickly in recent history.

It is unclear at this stage whether Sheffield will also submit an application to the fund, which if divided evenly would provide around £355,000 for each of the country’s Police and Crime Commissioner districts.

But South Yorkshire’s PCC, Dr Alan Billings, has questioned the fairness of a system which demands bids and may then distribute money on a random basis to different parts of the country.

He said: “It is hard on the voluntary sector because they don’t have people waiting around to fill in forms, they have to take someone off the jobs they are doing to do the administration. Then you may not get a grant.

“I am critical of all Government schemes which are competitive because it leads to random distribution of money.

“It is a lottery in the worst sense of the word.

“It skews resources, they go a random way. I don’t think it is a good way of distributing public funds,” he said.