Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 10 MAY 2000
140. And hopefully it works in the autumn.
(Mr Hornsby) I hope so.
141. Do you think you may discover there are
cases where situations have arisen where you may have a right
of recall you were not aware of?
(Mr Hornsby) The computer will not discover the cases,
it will trigger the visits. I would regard it unlikely, given
our client base. The type of groups that we fund are not on the
whole ones who are asset strippers or who seek to gain commercial
advantage from the capital assets that have been funded. What
is more normal is it goes to another charity. It is possible,
and that is the whole point of having post grant completion monitoring,
that in some unusual cases they may, but our experience so far
has been that the voluntary sector is extremely anxious to hang
on to and to use for the benefit of its beneficiaries the capital
assets we have granted as opposed to wanting to sell them off.
142. It might be helpful if we could have a
note on the nature of the programme that will be available to
you with your new computer programme.
(Mr Hornsby) Yes, indeed.
143. I wonder if I can start by asking whether
or not either of you have been in the position yourselves of applying
(Mr Hornsby) Yes, but not to myself.
144. No, no I did assume that actually. I just
want to clarify whether or not you have now, or have had in the
past, the minds of poachers, in which case it will make things
a bit easier if you understand the points.
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
145. Looking at page 11, figure 3, where we
have the themes of grant programmes which have changed over time,
I want to clarify how successful you believe the changing of themes
has been and how do you measure success?
(Mr Hornsby) The intention was to try and cover the
wide variety of voluntary sector activity.
146. I understand that. How successful has it
(Mr Hornsby) Because that was the intention, you can
measure success in part by the volume of applications each theme
round generates and in part by the quality of the one in three
or one in five applications you can fund. By that success yardstick
the Board's choice of going for a series of themes has proved
very effective. Each theme has generated effective applications
and we have had really good schemes to fund.
147. Looking at it from an area base though,
the needs of an area will not necessarily change as your themes
change, will they?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
148. I think all of us here are probably old
enough to remember the Kinks and you remember their song Dedicated
follower of fashion?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
149. The point is always to believe what is
necessary at the time and it is easy to believe, I have always
believed it in fact, when it is fashionable. To what extent do
you think the applications you are getting in are basically the
same applications just tailored to meet the new criteria?
(Mr Hornsby) The two main grant programmes we are
running at the moment, because we have moved from the series of
themes, community involvement and poverty and disadvantage, frankly
cover a pretty wide area. There is inevitably going to be a degree
of tailoring. The voluntary sector are pretty good at this actually.
If a funder offers particular conditions, you can try and squeeze
your scheme into that. We have tried to avoid that, I think it
has a distorting effect and I think it has the unfairness for
local areas you suggest. The broad themes of our two existing
main programmes should be sufficiently comprehensive.
150. Some of the other ones they have been much
(Mr Hornsby) That is true.
151. It would not apply for previous ones.
(Mr Hornsby) That argument is less true of our previous
grant rounds, you are right.
152. I am just wondering, going on to the section
I think on page 19, figure 5, where we have assessments of whether
or not the objectives have been fully provided and so on and so
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
153. To what extent is that because the people
involved did not really intend to meet the objective they set
in the first place, they had other objectives in mind and withdrew
their application after reading your criteria? Therefore, the
assessments we are making here and where the needs are, say, "partly
provided" are actually not a problem in terms of the area,
they might be a problem in terms of the criteria you have artificially
established. Do you have any thoughts on that?
(Mr Hornsby) It is an interesting angle. The evidence
we have is that because of the figure I quoted, in these three
grants rounds we were funding one in five of the applications.
We had a very rich mix. We had many more schemes that were fundable
than we actually did fund. To that extent, therefore, we have
skimmed off what the assessors considered were the better schemes.
I do not think that the reason for under-performance was someone
had artificially skewed their scheme to meet our particular criteria;
the reasons for under-performance were, interestingly, quite varied,
but I have not seen much evidence on any of the post mortems we
have done internally, that when we said, "Why was this scheme
pretty much a flop?", the case officer said, "It is
because their heart or mind was not in it."
154. "Pretty much of a flop" is a
bit extreme, I was thinking more in terms of the "mostly
provided" or "partly provided" categories, that
would result in a loss of effectiveness as you would see it, but
not necessarily in terms of the people that got the money and
what they actually wanted. The hoops that you set them were wrong,
do you accept that?
(Mr Hornsby) I think that is possible. It is difficult
to know exactly how you would calibrate or check that. Would you
say to a group, when you were doing the end-of-grant assessment,
"Did you really believe in this, did you have to alter it
a bit?" It becomes a bit suggestive.
155. That is what third-party investigators
or monitors are for, is it not?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes. Our experience, frankly, is that
given the degree of over-bidding, we did have the luxury, as a
grant maker, to try and select schemes that seem to us strong
and well fitting.
156. Giving you had the luxury over disadvantaged
area based single organisations and advantaged bigger organisations
which would have a range of things from which they could select
to slot in, whatever criteria you had, they would find something,
so you would not necessarily be addressing the needs of a particular
area, even though big organisations were quite possibly doing
well at that?
(Mr Hornsby) It is true that large sophisticated organisations
have a greater capacity to fine-tune the applications. We logged,
pretty rigorously, the income of the bodies we granted and 40
per cent of our grants go to voluntary sector bodies with an income
of less than £20,000.
157. That is 40 per cent by volume of application,
not by volume of money though?
(Mr Hornsby) It is 40 per cent by volume of application
and 23 per cent by resources. We have checked on the portfolios
and on the recommendations to the Committee through time to say,
"Are we getting the balance right? Are we letting too much
go to the larger and more sophisticated bodies?" Again I
understand what you are saying, but on the whole our experience
has been that small, locally based groups, have proved remarkably
innovative and imaginative at getting decent schemes to us that
we can fund. As I have said, the figures I have quoted show that
we do get the balance right.
158. You mentioned, I think in response to a
couple of my colleagues, an awareness of particular areas, in
which case you will be aware of grants in my area. I took the
opportunity of checking beforehand, I have got a constituency
that has the highest unemployment in Scotland and it is well down
the list, 500 odd out of 600 constituencies, in terms of getting
grants, and well above average in terms of spending the money
on lottery tickets. Clearly something is not working there. Can
I come back to the question of minimisation of costs by yourselves?
It seems to me that spending more money yourselves to either encourage
applicants or to have an innovative process of applications would
actually help areas such as mine more, rather than those big organisations
that have the staff, the time and the money to be able to put
in absolutely perfect applications. Many big organisations could
put applications in Latin or priced in groats if that is what
you asked for, whereas my area could not. Is this an issue that
you are conscious of, and how do you propose to address it?
(Mr Hornsby) Very much so. As I have indicated, we
have moved from being a largely reactive grant maker to being
more proactive. As Mr Young has said, the 1998 Act gives us further
tools for that. We have done much more recently in terms of helper
sessions and in terms of trying to rebalance. At the end of the
day it is really a question of judgment, and that is a matter
for my board when they look at the overall budget, and how they
balance the developmental work, the targeting work, the support
work, which costs money and which is less money for grants. I
think on the whole we have probably got the balance about right.
In the case of Glasgow we have accepted that it is much more costly.
159. I understand that within Glasgow there
are clear discrepancies, it is the better-off part of Glasgow
that benefits from this approach and the poorer areas have remained
with very little. Were it not for the local authority's involvement,
my own area would have nothing at all. Clearly your system has
not worked to date. What steps are you taking to address that
now? (Mr Hornsby) We look at the match between the local
deprivation indicators, in ration terms as you quoted, and the
way the grants go. If, in any county or region, there is a major
mismatch, we then see what we can do to bring it into balance.
7 Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, page 122 (PAC