Review of the Climate Challenge Fund

This report reviews the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF), a Scottish Government scheme that supports communities to take action to address climate change.

2. Introduction

2.1 The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) is a Scottish Government scheme that supports communities to take action on climate change. The CCF recognises the significant contribution communities can make to achieving Scotland's climate change targets and the transition to a low carbon society. Projects funded by the CCF are community-led and focus on reducing carbon emissions and achieving positive behaviour change.

2.2 This report presents the results of a review of the CCF and was undertaken by Changeworks on behalf of the Scottish Government. It focuses specifically on the third phase of the CCF (CCF3), which has run since 2012.

Programme background

2.3 The CCF has run since 2008, with funding currently committed until March 2016. Over the course of the entire CCF scheme (2008-16), 550 groups have been awarded over £66million to deliver 730 discrete projects.

2.4 The CCF offers awards of up to £150,000 per annum per project, with groups eligible to apply for further funding for a new project. The CCF fully funds projects, meaning that there is no requirement on applicants to seek funding from other sources in order to be awarded funding. All applications must be from community groups and meet the following three criteria to receive funding:

  • Community-led. Both the community group and the project itself must be community-led.
  • Carbon reductions. The project must lead to a measurable reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in the community, improve carbon literacy and/or help communities cope with the impacts of climate change (adaptation projects).
  • Sustainable legacy. The project is expected to demonstrate a sustainable legacy through physical, behavioural, awareness or social change in the community.

2.5 The CCF has been administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) since its inception. Projects are allocated a Development Officer (DO) who provides support during the development of applications and the implementation of projects, including the processing of grants claims and receiving progress reports, as well as reviewing applications prior to grants panel meetings. An Independent Grants Panel and Junior Climate Challenge Fund (JCCF) Youth Panel make recommendations to the Scottish Government on whether to approve applications or not. Scottish Government make the final decisions regarding which applicants receive CCF awards. A key element of the CCF administration is delivering the Community Action Support Programme (CASP), which develops the capacity of community groups (not just those with CCF funding) wishing to tackle climate change by providing workshops, peer-to-peer networking opportunities and other resources.

2.6 CCF has funded a range of projects addressing one or more topics such as food, waste, transport and energy. Some projects have funded 'hard' measures in community building refurbishment (e.g. insulation), whilst others have focused on encouraging householders to take up similar 'hard' measures and/or adopt sustainable behaviours, for example, in relation to saving energy or active travel. Many have included elements of awareness-raising, information provision and engagement.

2.7 In 2010-11 an external review of the CCF was undertaken by Brook Lyndhurst[1]. This led to a 'CCF Refresh' in November 2012, which introduced three 'refresh' themes:

  • Broadening the reach of the CCF
    • Engaging with the 'most disadvantaged' or 'hard-to-reach' communities.
    • Making the CCF accessible to groups whose locus of activity is in other (non-environmental) areas.
    • Targeting the engagement of young people in climate change action, through the newly introduced JCCF.
  • Deepening the impact of the CCF
    • Supporting projects to make and embed more profound changes, using mature CCF groups to enrich and add value to the CCF overall, and to support newer smaller groups.
  • Exploring new ideas
    • Researching and testing new areas of CCF activity, including piloting adaptation projects and supporting innovative carbon-reducing ideas.
    • Supporting appropriate projects to raise revenue from their activity and move from grant dependency to a sustainable funding position.

2.8 The broaden theme included the introduction of 'development grants' for disadvantaged and hard-to-reach groups to prepare stronger CCF applications (or assess the need for a CCF application). The development grant was for up to £750 and enabled actions that included community consultations, events or support for the development of the application.

2.9 In 2012, the Ideas Bank[2] was also introduced to support the deepen theme and help extend the reach and increase the impact of the CCF. It sought the submission of 'templates' of eligible projects which community groups could use to prepare an application to the CCF. The templates were to be developed by public bodies, national charities, community groups and other organisations with experience relevant to the CCF themes. These bodies could then be paid by new applicants to the CCF to provide support and resources (up to a maximum of 49% of the overall project budget). As such the Ideas Bank was designed to enable more strategic projects to be led by community groups (in partnership with other organisations). It could also, in theory, act to provide groups with ongoing funding to share ideas and best practice, should an experienced community group develop their own 'template' which was in turn taken up and by another group.

2.10 For CCF3, 388 awards (including 96 development grants and 292 full CCF projects) were made, of which 282 (73%) were from groups new to the CCF[3].

Table 2.1 CCF3 Awards

CCF3 Award Type New Applicants Previous Applicants Total
Full project awards 197 95 292
Development grants 85 11 96
Total 282 106 388

2.11 It is important to note that the three refresh themes were broad aims and did not have any specific targets allocated to them, nor were they part of any assessment criteria, although there was some monitoring of progress against these aims during CCF3.

Research aims and objectives

2.12 The aim of this research was to undertake a review of the Climate Challenge Fund. The research objectives were to review:

  • How has CCF3 delivered on its refresh themes?
  • How can the CCF, or any successor scheme, best enable communities to contribute to the Scottish Government's climate change objectives and targets?

2.13 The review was tasked to consider these objectives within a context of the CCF's contribution to other government objectives such as community empowerment and addressing inequalities[4].

Research questions

2.14 The research sought to address the research objectives by answering the following research questions. The scope of research on the future of the programme was to explore the implications of the questions and options, rather than to make recommendations as to how the CCF should proceed or develop in the future.

How has CCF3 delivered on its refresh themes?


  • How far has CCF3 succeeded in increasing access to CCF funding by target groups, including groups in disadvantaged areas, minority ethnic communities, and young people through the JCCF?
  • What role have development grants played in increasing access to CCF funding?


  • What role has CASP played in supporting projects, including peer learning (projects learning from each other and transferring knowledge)?
  • What role has the Ideas Bank played in terms of project applications and supporting community groups?


  • How successful has the adaptation strand of the CCF3 explore theme been?
  • To what extent has innovation been encouraged (and is there evidence of take-up of other innovative but as yet unproven carbon reduction ideas)?
  • As projects have been permitted to generate income since the start of CCF3, how successful have projects been at generating their own income?


  • To what extent have CCF groups continued their existence beyond initial CCF funding?

Funding and partnerships:

  • To what extent have CCF3 projects received funding and/or income from different funding sources? What are these different sources? Is there any pattern by disadvantage or equality group?
  • What role has CCF and other funding and partnerships worked to encourage and sustain these groups?
  • How does the CCF fit with and/or complement other Scottish Government funding streams currently available to communities including Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES)[5], the People and Communities Fund, and the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP)?
  • To what extent do CCF3 projects work with complementary national and/or local initiatives and/or wider partnerships and organisations?

How can the CCF, or any successor scheme, best enable communities to contribute to the Scottish Government's climate change objectives and targets?

Specific options for reshaping the CCF:

  • Should the CCF (or any successor scheme) be more focused in terms of the range of projects funded (e.g. Should the CCF continue to fund the full range of projects, including keeping its explore focus on innovation? Should the requirement that existing community groups can (only) receive new funding for doing the same work with a different community, or different work with the same community, be changed?)
  • Should the CCF (or any successor scheme) have a stronger focus on funding groups from disadvantaged areas (in line with the Programme for Government) and/or other disadvantaged or equalities groups (e.g. young people and JCCF, minority ethnic groups)?
  • Should the CCF (or any successor scheme) have a greater emphasis on co-funding of projects, except those initial projects coming forward from disadvantaged areas and other disadvantaged or equalities groups?
  • Should the CCF (or any successor scheme) include an element of loan funding (for example along the lines of the CARES model)?
  • Should, and how could development grants be strengthened going forward?
  • Should, and how could income-generating potential be strengthened going forward?

Partnerships and policy links:

  • How would working with complementary national and/or local initiatives (e.g. national energy efficiency programmes) and wider partnerships/organisations at a local level fit with any future option for co-funding?
  • How else can CCF groups support local and/or national priorities?

Project support:

  • How else can support to projects, particularly new projects, be improved during design, delivery and reporting stage?


Email: Debbie Sagar

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