Changes to the Small Grants Programme for 2019-20

Since its introduction at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, the Small Grants Programme (SGP) has awarded grants of well over  £100,000 to clubs across the County. These grants have ranged from projects to upgrade changing facilities, including for ladies and girls, floodlights, pitch-side barriers, as well as emergency / remedial repairs and maintenance.

Importantly, grants have been awarded across many types of clubs, from small, one team clubs and start-ups in the Kent Rural & Metropolitan leagues, to those that compete in the national leagues. The aim has been always to ensure that clubs secure ‘bang for bucks’ and so deliver good quality projects for their playing and non-playing membership alike.

As Roger Clarke’s recent report of his first year on the RFU Council notes, the County (as with other Constituent Bodies) has been affected by the RFU’s decision to reduce spending within the Community game. As a result, Kent lost £20,000 from central RFU funds, which has been exacerbated by the further decision to suspend major facilities grants for clubs. This has inevitably had a detrimental impact on how we can support facilities funding within Kent, with the decision to halve the SGP budget for this season.

What does this mean for clubs?

The County sees it still as a priority to support clubs as much as it can, to help improve facilities. But we have had to reflect how best we can achieve this within the current financial environment.

We consulted widely last season to get clubs’ views on priority areas to include in its RFU Local funding spend. Clubs told us that the recruitment and retention of adult XV-a-side men’s players was paramount. Obviously, the focus here is on the playing side, and how to widen the rugby ‘offer’ to attract and retain players; however, insofar as this relates to facilities funding, there is a need too, to ensure that clubs are hospitable and attractive, such that members want to spend their social time in the clubhouse. This can be summarised as the ‘Club Welcome’.

Our budget this season is £10,000. This obviously limits what the County is able to do. Nevertheless, the amount of money that the County can provide through grant funding, in addition to clubs’ own financial resources, need not be large – a lick of paint, etc. is not expensive, relatively speaking, but if it brightens up the clubhouse, bar area, and/or changing rooms, it may make the difference between keeping players or losing them.

For the 2019-20 season, therefore, SGP grant funding will be focused exclusively on ‘Club Welcome’ projects. Maximum grants will be limited to £500 (as opposed to the previous maximum limit of £5,000). In all other respects, the application remains the same:

  • Applications will be accepted from all clubs at whatever Level and applications should clearly explain:
  • The maximum amount that can be applied for is £500. Given the disparity between available funds and the anticipated number of grant applications, the assessment process will be very rigorous. We should like to help as many clubs as possible, so the more applications we receive for less than £500, then the more clubs we can help.
  • The ‘Club Welcome’ project to which the grant award will contribute and its objective(s);
  • Applications should indicate when the expenditure will be incurred (the County will also consider retrospective applications, where costs have already been incurred).
  • The priority the club attaches to the project, including what the applicant club has already done to commit to the project, i.e. funds already raised and commitment of the club’s committee and its membership.
  • Clubs must have completed and/or updated and submitted the County’s ‘Club Facilities Audit’ (Details and the audit template are available on the Facilities page of the KCRFU website).
  • Clubs must have returned their current annual financial report/accounts to the County (this is a standard requirement for county funding).
  • Clubs must support County teams, where players are required and must either be an England Rugby Accredited Club or actively working towards becoming Accredited, through engagement with their RFU Rugby Development Officer.

Please make sure that you have complied with ALL of the above criteria when you submit your application. If you do not, then your application will not be considered.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 30 March 2020.  Application should be sent to Nigel Fray at facilities@kent-rugby.org .

Successful applicants will be required to spend the grant award (on the specific project for which the grant is intended) within 6 months of receipt.

Successful clubs must supply actual invoices for the work carried out/supplies purchased in order for grant awards to be disbursed. Club invoices will not be accepted as proof of spend.

Successful clubs will, 6 months after the award, be required to notify the County of the spend and also to indicate the extent to which the award has helped to secure the project’s objective(s)

Club Facilities Audit

The County is grateful to all clubs that completed last year’s audit. As noted above, the criteria for SGP applications to be considered has been extended to include the requirement that the audit has been completed.

For those clubs that did complete the audit, last year’s version should be reviewed and either updated or confirmation made to the County that the audit remains as originally submitted.  There is, however, an additional piece of information that we require from each club: This related to the club’s legal status, i.e. clubs are requested to inform the County as to whether they a limited company, unincorporated association, limited partnership, CASC, etc.

Grant awards can be helpful in contributing to the fundraising that clubs are already carrying out to support their respective improvement projects – even relatively small awards can provide an exponentially beneficial impact. For larger projects, an award of, say, £5,000 could cover all of the planning application costs (incl. surveying, architects, agronomy, etc.) of a new Clubhouse. For a smaller club, an award of even as little as £500 could make the difference between an important project going ahead or not, for example by providing additional funding to those clubs who are participating in the RFU’s NatWest ‘Rugby Force’ programme.

Clubs are also reminded of the various financial support mechanisms that are made available by the RFU – and which the County’s grants can complement.

For those clubs that have yet to complete the audit – or for those that wish to update their entry from last year (including to include details or their legal status, the template can be downloaded here.
Club audit template.

Applications for Kent RFU’s grant funding should be addressed to facilities@kent-rugby.org

Helpful Websites:

Information on artificial pitches:

Download HERE a guide to using/hiring artificial pitches.

See HERE our protocol for Maintenance of artificial pitches.

Artificial Grass Pitches across Kent compliant with Regulation 22, with their next test date.

Blackheath Rugby Club: Well Hall, Kidbrook Lan, London SE9 6TE – 22/03/2019

Darrick Wood School: Lovibonds Avenue, Orpington BR6 8EW – 16/10/2019

Judd Grammar School: Brook Street, Tonbridge TN9 2PN – 23/10/2020

K Sports Cobdown: Station Road, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 6AU – 4/10/2019

Kings Hill Sports Centre: Kings Hill Sports Park, 70 Gibson Drive, ME19 4LG – 20/12/2019

Ravens Wood School: Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent, BR2 8HP – 24/07/2020

Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys: Langton Lane, Nackington Road, Kent, CT4 7AS – 11/10/2019