To receive a report of the Social Investment Manager from Trafford Housing Trust.
The Social Investment Manager from Trafford Housing Trust (THT) gave a brief overview of the report which had been circulated with the agenda. The Committee were informed that the social investment fund had been launched by THT in 2015. Since its inception the fund had been used to support 908 projects totalling £1.7 million and an additional £300,000 had come from the fund for other investments. THT had been working hard since the fund began to reduce the management fees which they had managed to reduce down to around 10%.
A large portion the funds that had been used were in the South of the Borough with less being awarded in the North, West, and more deprived areas. THT were aware of this issue were trying to encourage more applications in these areas. There were plans to invest a further £50,000 in children’s activities during the year which would help the fund reach £1.8m invested during the year. The target for the fund was to invest £2,000,000 so they were nearly running at target levels after three years.
The Committee were informed that THT had been purchased by LNQ which would result in a large number of properties being developed in the North West as well as more money being invested in the area. Part of the purchase agreement ensured that THTs plans for the area would not change in the foreseeable future.
Following the overview Councillors were given the opportunity to ask questions. One Member asked why so little funding was going to the North and West of the Borough. The Social Investment Manager responded that this was partly due to the level of proactivity in the area compared to other areas. This was also down to groups being based in the South but then delivering projects across the whole of the borough. The Committee Member stated that they felt that the lack may be due to the lack of established groups in the more deprived areas of Trafford. They had looked at the application process and had found it quite arduous. The Social Investment Manager replied that this was a new process and that THT were looking for feedback on how to improve the application process. A redesign of the large application form had recently been completed and video applications were now available for small grants. The Social Investment Manager welcomed the Councillors feedback and asked that they send any comments after the meeting.
The Member then noted that Trafford had a Communities and Partnerships team and asked how much those staff linked up with those from THT. The Social Investment manager answered that there was a good working relationship in place with Trafford and that THT had mapped their structure on Trafford’s neighbourhood model.
Another Member of the Committee asked how residents were to contact THT’s community mentors. The Social Investment Fund Manager told the Committee that as this was a community role residents did not contact them rather they went out into the community to find those who normally did not engage.
A Committee Member enquired as to how THT set their priorities for the fund and whether they reviewed them in light of changing demographics. The Social Investment Fund Manager responded that the priorities were originally set by looking at national research by the Joseph Rowntree foundation on how to tackle poverty and inequality. As the fund worked with organisations and residents in Trafford and learnt more about the community they used that local knowledge within the continuous process of re-evaluating their priorities to ensure they were focused to deliver change.
The Chair asked whether LNQ were a non for profit organisation. The Social Investment Fund Manager confirmed that LNQ were a housing Trust similar to THT and that they also had an academy and a foundation which they used to invest in communities. Committee Members raised concerns about the size of LNQ compare to THT and that the combined organisation would be more focused upon London than the North West. The Social Investment Fund Manager assured the Committee that THT would continue as they had planned to for the next five years and during that time they would continue to grow and focus on Trafford.
1) That the update be noted.
2) That the Social Investment Manager be thanked for attending the meeting.