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Amendment to Contract Procedure Rules

Meeting: 21/09/2022 - Civic Affairs (Item 31)

31 Amendment to Contract Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 261 KB


The Committee received a report from Community Funding and Voluntary Sector Manager.


The Councils Constitution at Part 4G – Contract Procedure Rules, 1.22.2 stated that “ALL Grant Agreements paid to third parties must be executed as a deed”.


To be legally enforceable, grant agreements must be executed as a deed, however this does not take into consideration that the Council would not wish to take a voluntary or community group to court to reclaim any monies unless absolutely necessary, and in many cases the cost of court action would exceed the value of the grant award in any event.


The preferred route would be to develop and maintain excellent relationships with our funded groups, whereby groups feel able to discuss any concerns they have about their funding award and group status at the earliest stages.


Alongside this, the Grants Team has put in place robust processes to manage the risks associated with making grant and is now seeking this approach to be reflected in the Contract Procedure Rules.


The proposed amendment would give the Council the ability to execute grants as deeds where it was felt this was proportionate to the risk or where particular thresholds were met – such as over a certain financial value. It would also allow the majority of grants which are lower risk and of lower value, to be signed under hand.


Councillor Bick queried whether it was usual, or how widespread, was the practice of not following procedure rules. Officers proposed to follow up this point after committee.


The Community Funding and Voluntary Sector Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

i.                Contract procedure wording was deliberately kept flexible so it could adapt to different circumstances.

ii.               Other local authorities did not have contract procedure wording in their constitution so removing this would allow the City Council some flexibility. This is an option which will be considered in due course.

iii.             Officers had considered imposing a financial threshold where grants above x level would need a deed but those below would not. As grants had been agreed without a deed during lockdown (e.g. over £300,000 to the Citizens Advice Bureau) there seemed little point in automatically imposing a threshold for others. The Director may consider a threshold is required in future.

iv.             The Grants Team would scrutinise grant applications against criteria regardless of whether Officers had an existing relationship with community groups.

v.              The intention was to work with small groups to better engage them. Accessible guidance notes and Officer support was available to help groups complete the on-line application process. The second phase of the grants process may lead to other application formats being accepted.

vi.             This was the pilot project phase so Officers would learn from phase 1 and this would feed into phase 2.


Resolved (by 4 votes to 0 (and 2 abstentions)) to recommend to Council that Contract Procedure Rules are amended to enable Grant Agreements to be approved by deed; or signed under hand where appropriate by delegated authority to the Director. The new wording would be as follows: “ALL Grant Agreements paid to third parties must be executed as a deed; or signed under hand where appropriate by delegated authority to the Director”.