Jun 17 2014

Harrow’s Neighbourhood Investment Scheme

harrow_council_logoSpotted in Harrow Council’s Member’s Circular…

The Neighbourhood Investment Scheme (NIS) is a scheme that gives each ward in the Borough £10,000 to be spent on capital programmes within the ward.

Recent examples of what the NIS money has been used for include green gyms, benches, and alley gates.

Where the ward is a one political party ward, the Members will be asked to nominate a Member to represent the ward. Where there are mixed political wards, the budget will be evenly split, so each Member would get one third of the ward budget. 

The guide below sets out the process, and clarifies what the funding can be used for, and other protocols. If you would like any additional information or advice, do not hesitate to contact David Corby, who will ensure you get a swift response: Dave.Corby@harrow.gov.uk.

  1. Timescales
    It takes time to get things agreed, ordered and installed. Work has to be fitted into existing work plans. We therefore advise that financial commitment is made by the end of November for trees, benches, gates etc., to realise expenditure by the end of the financial year. For all other matters we advise that the financial commitment is by 31st December. We cannot guarantee that any orders placed after 31st December will be processed before the end of the financial year.
  2. Membership
    All Members are included in the NIS. The scheme is ward based and if they wish, Members in wards can collaborate on projects. In this case, they can nominate one Member to be the contact point for the Ward to the NIS Link Officer, Katherine Zeller (Katherine.zeller@harrow.gov.uk). This will ensure a co-ordinated approach and reduce delays.
  3. Budgets
    Each ward has £10,000 available, which equates to £3,333 for each Ward member. There is no provision for NIS to incur expenditure against future budgets; there is no opportunity for carry-over. Where the ward is a one political party ward the Members will be asked to nominate a Member to represent the ward and sign off the NIS forms. Where there are mixed political wards the amount of resources will be divided into a 1/3 and each Member will need to sign off funding for their individual 1/3 resource.
  4. What can the budget be spent on?
    Members have the freedom to choose whatever projects they wish which they feel will best contribute to the prosperity of the area. Members are free to make their own judgements. Legally NISs cannot do anything that the council is unable to do. As the council itself can only do what legalisation permits, NISs are subject to the same limitation. However, since the Local Government Act 2000, many of the limitations on what councils can do have been lifted – the Link officer (Katherine Zeller) will be able to advise further. The budget for NISs has been found from capital expenditure. All projects therefore need to be capable of being classed as capital expenditure. It will not be possible to use the budget to employ someone or to give a grant to a local organisation to help it meet its running costs. Auditors would expect to see and touch what has been bought or created, so it needs to be physical in nature. The definition of capital expenditure is basically the acquisition, creation or enhancement of a tangible fixed asset. Tangible assets cover land, building, fixtures on land and certain contents of buildings. The concept behind a capital asset is that value is created that can be realised later. Capital expenditure is not intended to cover the maintenance or repair of an asset unless it lengthens substantially the useful life of that asset. Possible items and projects that could be considered include trees, bins, traffic enhancement schemes, play equipment and benches. NISs should also be guided by the council’s policies and priorities. They are not, however,restricted by them, providing good local reasons and justification exists.
  5. Costs
    It is intended that the entire budget for NISs be spent on projects and not on incidental costs and administration such as room hire. It is possible to work with other organisations and joint schemes. It might also be possible to offer to part fund a scheme if the public, or other organisations, can fund the other part. NISs should also remember when obtaining estimates to include all costs, for example, a park bench would need to be fixed securely and the cost will be more than just the cost of the bench. 
  6. Consultation
    Each Member is free to determine the extent to which and how they wish to carry out consultation with the people, businesses and organisations in their area. Involvement and consultations are strongly encouraged. Consultation can be achieved in many different ways. The holding of largescale public meetings might be appropriate in a few circumstances but members are advised that these can be costly to organise (and there is no budget and no administrative support).

As mentioned above, if you would like any additional information or advice around the Neighbourhood Investment Scheme, do not hesitate to contact David Corby, who will ensure you get a quick response (Dave.Corby@harrow.gov.uk).

Have you have any contact from your local councillor so see how you’d like the money in your ward to be spent?

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