Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 10 MAY 2000
160. You have told us that already. What are
you doing now? You mentioned a number of things that you are doing.
It is not working yet. What more are you doing? I asked you in
particular whether or not you would consider having a more innovative
application process, which would be more expensive for you, and
I understand the pressures in the other direction, but is that
something that you would consider, or are there other steps that
you intend to take on the difficulties I have identified?
(Mr Hornsby) The other possibility we have been looking
at in Scotland and elsewhere is to say, what can we do to help
the umbrella bodies or the infrastructure bodies? One is looking
at the CVS or one is looking at regional bodies, in that we would
be very willing to look at capacity building grants for those
bodies who could in turn help energise the smaller local groups
who are having difficulty putting bids together. So that is another
channel of help, which we have certainly done and we would be
willing to continue doing.
161. In terms of liaison with local authorities,
and the survey in Scotland of the social inclusion partnerships
that have been established, I am not clear what role you see yourselves
playing in terms of linking up with these new structures?
(Mr Hornsby) The Chair of our Scotland Committee has
had a number of discussions with the Scottish Executive, and with
others, to see whether, in the focus of grants we offer, we can
pay attention to the interesting new modelI think it is
relatively new in Scotlandof the social inclusion partnerships.
We are aware of it and we have been discussing it with those concerned.
162. One of my areas has been up and running
for well over a year and there does not seem to be much urgency
with your dialogue with the Scottish Executive. Certainly I have
seen no sign of it. Do you not think that is a fair point to make?
(Mr Hornsby) It depends what the programme of the
social inclusion partnership is. I do not have specific knowledge
of the social inclusion partnership in your area. If they have
a programme, if they have a particular series of targets, there
would be some quite interesting questionsfor example, are
there additional areas, given that the Board funds extra projects,
which would be in harmony with or would support what the partnership
was doing? As I say, without a specific knowledge of the programme,
I could not comment.
163. I wonder if we can have a note on that
general issue, about how they believe they could, in future, mesh-in
with government initiatives designed to tackle social inclusion
or social exclusion in particular8. I want to turn now to a slightly
different point, which is really again an issue of spending. I
want to raise with you the issue of the complexity of the monitoring
procedure and the extent to which that deters groups from applying
and getting enmeshed in the organisation. I have personally had
the response from a number of people in my area that they just
find it too difficult to deal with; it is too complicated, they
have not got the time, life is too short, they wait for the social
work department to do these things and in the event this never
actually happens. They are put off dealing with it themselves,
except for the very small grants, which seem to be excellent.
It is not "One for All", is it?
(Mr Hornsby) Awards for all.
164. The bigger grants are just too complicated.
How do you respond to that?
(Mr Hornsby) We commissioned NOPNational Opinion
Pollsto do a detailed survey of all our applicants. Is
the application form a hurdle? Is it too much? Are you having
difficulty with the forms? What are the bottlenecks? What is the
overload? Are we cost shunting and making you pay money? We received
the report back from them a couple of months ago and overall I
have to say that the results were extremely positive. The majority
of applicants, whether large or small, found the application forms
165. By applicants, you mean those who applied?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
166. They did not monitor those who were put
off from applying because it was too complicated?
(Mr Hornsby) What they did do, because we captured
the data of application form dispatch and return, they interviewed
a number of people who had been sent the forms and had not returned
them and said "Did you not return them because it was too
difficult or because your project was not ready or because you
found other funds?" They did the same on the monitoring.
The feedback we have from this is that it is undoubtedly true
that there is potentially a barrier, both in the application form
and in the grant management, and we are looking to see whether
there are some improvements. It is a difficult question. The simpler
and easier you make it, the less rigorous and effective your control
framework. The more data you seek to capture and the more rigorously
you enforce, the better your accountability line, and I am certain
it would strengthen my position in front of this Committee next
time, but the more the clients are going to say "You are
imposing a remarkably intrusive and demanding regime which we
find difficult". It is getting that balance right.
167. Absolutely. I understand that. Having been
involved in a number of things I have always been prepared to
accept a certain degree of loss in these circumstances.
(Mr Hornsby) Yes.
168. Is that something you have formalised?
Have you had a formal discussion on that yourselves or is it just
something which has evolved? Is there a deliberate set of decisions
that have been taken to strike that balance?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes, there has been. We have revisited
this. As I say, we looked at it two months ago in the light of
pretty detailed information from an NOP survey and we shall be
looking at it again. NOP are producing a final report, we have
had the first two parts. We shall look at it again to see if we
can change the balance in a way that is sensible. It is something
that we are seriously concerned about. We think we have got it
about right but that is not to say that you could not move it
a bit one way or the other.
169. You noted the point Mr Davidson said, asking
you to put in a note, I assume you will do that?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes, of course9.
170. Can I observe as a Welshman that the English
and the Scots have drummed us out yet again today. So can I put
in a final bid here and exercise my prerogative as Chairman, could
you let us have a note in relation to the imbalance within Wales?
(Mr Hornsby) Yes10.
171. Inevitable to some extent because Cardiff
is the capital and so on, but a note would be very helpful.
(Mr Hornsby) Indeed.
172. And any observation you have in relation
to Swansea would also be welcome.
(Mr Hornsby) You are to be congratulated, Mr Williams,
as having among all your fellow Members of this Committee, secured
the largest award, six million pounds has gone to Swansea, but
I did not want to say that at the beginning of this hearing.
173. That will explain in part the answer to
my colleagues who passed me a note saying "Going into the
Chair has made you soft". I was hoping you were not going
to tell them.
(Mr Hornsby) We will let you have a note about the
overall distribution in Wales11.
Mr Williams: That will be very helpful. May
I thank you both. It has been a very informative, very open, very
good natured session. I think, if I may say, because of the pattern
of questions, Mr Young, you have had rather a lucky day, I think
Mr Hornsby deserves good marks in his performance assessment.
Thank you very much.