Highland to receive increase in Highland Coastal Communities Funding

Highland communities are set to benefit from a 7.5% increase in Highland Coastal Communities Funding (HCCF) for 2022.

As part of a review process agreed with Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders earlier this year, a new hybrid formula was approved for distribution of allocations. This hybrid approach comprises a 50/50 combination of the current interim seabed formula and the new asset-based methodology.

The new formula has meant that from the national fund Highland has been awarded £3,201,134.02 for distribution in 2022.

The HCCF opened to accept expressions of interest for strategic projects on 1 June 2021 and closed on 14 June. 28 expressions of interest were received during this time with a total grant request of £1,906,315.00.

The Scottish Government have indicated that their preference is that these funds be spent within the financial year 2021/22; however, given the size of allocation to Highland this would not be practical and an extension to this is expected to be secured.

The report on the new funding delivered to Members at today’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee highlighted how imperative it is to adequately resource the scheme to ensure audit compliance and efficient delivery.

The delivery of HCCF over the past year, has cost more than the available funding and has had to be subsidised by other funds. Administration costs for 2021 were £207,000, which represented 6.8% of last year’s HCCF allocation.

In line with Members desire to see external funding streams delivered on a full cost recovery basis, there is an opportunity to ensure that the support given through each programme is maximised by taking a blended approach and investing a proportionate amount from each fund into a team, rather than each different scheme funding individual posts.

There are currently 83 live projects within the HCCF programme that require ongoing support and Members today agreed with the recommendation to allocate a higher percentage of the future allocation into administration. This will see 7.5% of the allocation being used to cover the administration costs of the fund.

Although increased investment in administration can be viewed as reducing the amount that is available to directly fund projects; the overall benefit of ensuring adequate administration vastly outweighs this with the potential for every applicant who approaches the scheme to end up in a better position regardless of whether they are awarded funding or not.

Members also agreed with the recommendation to see the retention of a strategic pot of funding that allows for projects that deliver benefit across multiple areas with a focus on addressing the climate and nature emergency.

Cllr Robertson, Chair of Economy and Infrastructure Committee said: “It is clear that  Highland Coastal Communities Funding has been of significant value to Highland in the range and number of projects supported and the positive outcomes that each of these will deliver.

“The devolving of budgets to Area Committee level has allowed for decisions to be made within areas as to what the most appropriate interventions for each area are; and has given a degree of flexibility to the approach to ensure that it best fits within each area as appropriate.”

2 Dec 2021