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.

5. The Refresh Themes

5.1 The refresh themes were introduced in November 2012 to enhance the achievements of the CCF via broadening reach and inclusion, deepening the impact of projects and exploring and testing new ideas for CCF projects. As stated in 2.11 above, these themes were broad aims without specific criteria or monitoring allocated to them. As a result, this made measuring effectiveness difficult in some cases. The impact of these themes is explored in this chapter.

Overall awareness

5.2 The refresh approach was not explicit in the CCF3 application process or assessment. It is perhaps therefore not surprising that the awareness of the refresh themes and their detail was mixed across case study respondents. Most groups contacted were not aware of the refresh themes, although some were aware of aspects of the themes, but not necessarily the 'labels' associated with the CCF refresh. However, case study respondents were broadly supportive of the approach during discussion. Stakeholders who were aware of the themes were typically positive about them and their impact; although many were not aware and many had very limited knowledge of the CCF in general and, as a result, were unable to comment in detail.


5.3 The broaden theme set out to increase access to the CCF by encouraging groups from disadvantaged areas, minority ethnic communities and young people to apply to the fund. This was facilitated through a range of activities including the development of the JCCF, with applications assessed by a youth-led panel (supported by Young Scot[8]); offering specific support to minority ethnic communities via a programme supported by the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland[9]; and through the introduction of development grants (for disadvantaged and hard-to-reach groups) of up to £750 to support the development of full grant applications.

5.4 The broaden theme in particular was felt by both case study respondents and stakeholders to have been a very positive and effective change to the CCF. Stakeholders with awareness of the detail of the projects highlighted that CCF3 produced a wider range of projects than previous rounds and that the projects had become more than just focused on geographical communities and shifted to include minority ethnic groups; wider geographies; sports clubs; young people and other groups. The additional resources devoted to this element during the CCF3 period (i.e. Young Scot and CEMVO Scotland support) was felt, by those who were aware of this work, to be very successful and important. Data from the CCF database reinforces this and indicates that 73% (282) of the CCF3 and development grant projects came from groups new to the CCF, with 89% of the 96 development grant applicants from new groups. Table 5.1 below shows that over one quarter of all project awards (27%) went to deprived communities (among the 30% most deprived in Scotland), 17% to JCCF projects and 7% to minority ethnic communities, and that many of these came from new applicants.

Table 5.1 Broaden CCF Awards (KSB database)

New Applicants Previous Applicants Total (No.) Total (%)
Project Awards (292)
Deprived communities 47 33 80 27%
JCCF projects 28 21 49 17%
Minority ethnic communities 23 4 27 9%
Disabled groups 8 1 9 3%
Older people 7 2 9 3%
Development Grants (96)
Deprived communities 35 7 42 44%
JCCF projects 15 3 18 19%
Minority ethnic communities 33 0 33 34%
Disabled groups 1 0 1 1%
Older people 1 0 1 1%

5.5 The establishment of the JCCF, and the encouragement for projects to pay attention to and include youth involvement, were viewed positively. The need for support for youth-led projects, or for youth engagement to be a specific element of wider CCF projects, may have encouraged a greater engagement with the fund by young people.

5.6 However youth involvement was also identified as an area for improvement. This, in particular, related to the extent to which young people were able to participate in the CCF. There was a perception by some respondents that the emphasis on youth leadership for JCCF applications acted to restrict their likelihood to be involved due to the responsibilities and organisational challenges of applying for and running a CCF-type project. As one stakeholder commented: "…it hasn't brought in genuine projects led by young people… We [need] to find a way to articulate the fact that young people had needed to be supported" [SH01]. One case study group (based in a school) indicated they sought to be a JCCF group (having received a 'junior' development grant), but that, given their situation, the project had to be led by adults. The project therefore ended up as a standard CCF project, despite significant involvement by young people and a desire to be part of the JCCF. Indeed, the respondent highlighted that the application had gone through a number of iterations, including consideration of both funds. In addition, the JCCF panel felt that the label 'Junior' may have acted to generate a perception that the CCF was for school-age young people only, and as a result discouraged younger adults from applying or seeing this fund as for them.

5.7 Ninety-six development grants were awarded to groups as part of CCF3. Although few of the groups that were contacted in the research had received a development grant, for those that had, and for the stakeholders that were aware of the grants, they were viewed positively. As shown in Table 5.1 above, 44% of these grants went to deprived communities (among the 30% most deprived in Scotland) and 34% to minority ethnic groups, highlighting success in accessing these communities via this route. However, the number of minority ethnic groups obtaining full grants is lower (9% of all projects).

5.8 Groups found development grants useful in terms of establishing the needs of their community, gauging reactions to ideas and exploring ways to expand a previous project. Other groups also indicated that they used the funding to carry out energy audits, feasibility studies and to buy equipment. As a result, the grants were viewed as a positive way for groups to explore if the CCF was the right funding route for them before embarking on a full project and have clearly acted to increase access to CCF funding. As one stakeholder described, the grants were viewed as effective in broadening the reach of the fund and were: "particularly important for community organisations, it's a development journey they have to go through, it's not usually 'here's an idea I want to go and do it'" [SH05].


5.9 The deepen theme set out to support projects to make and embed more profound changes, encourage mature CCF groups to enrich and add value to the CCF overall, and to support newer smaller groups.

5.10 Table 5.2 below shows that 106 (including 95 full project awards and 11 development grants) of all CCF3-funded groups were from organisations previously funded by the CCF.

Table 5.2 CCF Awards (KSB database)

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

5.11 Many respondents felt this theme encouraged existing CCF groups to take projects to the next level and to ensure that the skills within groups could be retained and further work undertaken in communities: "they've built up all this experience within all the people that are engaged in it... This allows them to use that…Not just to continue what they're doing, but also to widen their impact" [SH17].

5.12 The CCF grant conditions meant that groups could not reapply for funding for the same or a similar project in the same location. This resulted in groups being forced to 'reframe', change or 'deepen' what they were currently doing (potentially successfully) to gain further funding from the CCF, rather than making more changes within their current target community on the same theme.

5.13 The CASP programme to develop the capacity of communities was viewed positively and has supported projects to learn and share knowledge in a variety of ways, although the feedback from groups would suggest that this element could be enhanced in a future scheme. There was some, if not universal, evidence of groups sharing resources and tools with each other. In addition, respondents to the CCF Projects Survey also highlighted the positive impact of the training programme and events with 52% respondents commenting on these as the most useful types of support [Q15, base=163]. Case study respondents also identified that networking events provided good opportunities for knowledge-sharing with other CCF groups, connections to other (non-CCF-funded) groups, and helped project groups to see the 'bigger picture' with regard to their contributions towards climate change. However there were also calls from some groups for an increase in this type of activity.

5.14 It was also clear that, for many, access to training courses was an issue due to the timing of training (e.g. sessions not being provided early enough for groups to use this information in their projects). Location of training was also an issue for more remote groups, with a desire for more online or remotely-based sessions. Key issues where groups would have liked more training related to best practice guidance or toolkits, evaluation and measurement, identifying project outcomes and carbon calculations.

5.15 The Ideas Bank was also introduced to help extend the reach and increase the impact of the CCF. The Ideas Bank operated through the use of 'template' project ideas, developed by partner organisations, from which groups could develop and deliver projects whilst also providing funding for partner organisations to allow them to work with community groups. Awareness of the Ideas Bank was low across case study respondents, reflecting the low take up of Ideas Bank projects. Based on data from KSB only 8 were funded during the CCF3 period.

5.16 Of the groups that were aware, many felt that it wasn't useful to them as the ideas did not match their needs. For most stakeholders that understood the aims of the Ideas Bank, it was felt to be a good approach in principle but they were unsure whether this was born out in practice. It was felt by some that this approach was not as effective as it could be at driving projects and engaging communities; as one stakeholder commented: "if somebody has got a good idea, we want that good idea to be happening everywhere that fits" [SH01].

5.17 Concerns from stakeholders related to lack of awareness of the Ideas Bank in general across community groups and confusion about its aims and delivery. For some respondents, the Ideas Bank was about sharing best practice and ideas between groups, which, although an element of the Ideas Bank, was not its core aim. In line with this potential misconception, one stakeholder suggested that the Ideas Bank was perhaps not working in line with their perception of the spirit of the CCF, as groups and the scheme should be sharing ideas, not "selling" ideas to other projects.


5.18 The explore theme of the CCF refresh related to researching and testing new areas of CCF activity, including piloting adaptation projects, supporting innovative carbon-reducing ideas and supporting appropriate projects to raise revenue and move away from grant dependency.

5.19 Explore was felt by many respondents to be the most challenging refresh theme to deliver, and was the least effective in terms of number of projects that could be described as including these elements (although these types of projects could be described as the most challenging for community groups to achieve). Based on a retrospective assessment undertaken by KSB staff, 5% of CCF3 projects (21) were deemed to have an element of adaptation in their project work; 12% (47) included ideas that were deemed innovative, and 10% (37) included some revenue-raising. There is therefore evidence that this theme had some success in addressing these issues, although these figures do not in themselves show how successful these projects were in tackling them.

Innovation and adaptation

5.20 The issue of innovation, and what constitutes an innovative project, was explored with community groups and stakeholders, particularly in the light of the CCF's current approach to only fund a group once to deliver the same project in the same area. For some, innovation was an extremely important element of the fund, and a number of case studies thought of their projects as innovative both in project design and in terms of how they responded and changed their projects in response to the needs of their community: "we were not afraid to think about new ideas and follow up in response to people's needs" [CS12].

5.21 However, for others, innovation was seen as unnecessary and not constructive in terms of delivering on the aims of the CCF, particularly in relation to projects that were offering well-established services, such as energy advice. This perspective is evidenced by the following two quotes: "People are desperate to make things innovative and new and exciting and different. What's wrong with good old fashioned advice and support?" [CS19 Int2.1]; "Innovation is not a word that springs to mind on this type of project; energy advice is more 'nuts and bolts'" [CS08 Int1].

5.22 Stakeholders also had mixed perspectives on innovation, with some seeing it as positive and others suggesting that a fund such as the CCF should look at supporting and evolving from what works, rather than putting too much emphasis on innovation.

5.23 The focus on CCF groups delivering adaptation projects was felt to have realised few projects and had limited success. One stakeholder commented that this area has been slow to develop, and one other commented that the CCF should not fund projects in this area and should focus on carbon emission reductions rather than adaptation.

5.24 That said, it was highlighted that if innovation and adaptation were to be encouraged as part of a future CCF, more support in the form of links to other organisations (e.g. academia and other groups), along with examples of innovative or adaptation work that could be delivered by communities, were essential to inspire and support groups to develop projects.


5.25 There was limited evidence of significant revenue-raising amongst case study groups. However one group did indicate that its CCF-funded project had become self-sustaining once the grant had finished. It is important to note that most groups highlighted the low potential for income generation for their projects and for many activity types currently funded by the CCF (e.g. charging for energy or transport advice).

5.26 Despite this limited evidence of revenue-raising, it is interesting to note that in response to a question asking if their organisation obtained funding or income from other sources to supplement the CCF grant for their most recent (CCF) project, 45% (65 of the 143 CCF3 groups responding to this question) indicated that this was the case (CCF Project Survey, Q9). This compares to 56% of the CCF2 projects (15 out of 27 CCF2 projects responding to this question). While there is a disparity in base size, the findings suggest that the proportions of projects receiving additional funding are similar since the CCF refresh.

5.27 However, the sources of these funds show some marked differences that suggest that the CCF refresh had some impact on income type, with increases in the proportion of projects receiving income from donations (7% of CCF2 projects vs. 31% of CCF3 projects), other Scottish Government funding (7% CCF2 vs. 26% CCF3) and trading (7% CCF2 vs. 22% CCF3). Full results are described in table 5.3 below.

Table 5.3 Sources of supplementary funding for CCF-funded projects

No. Groups % of Groups
Other grant or trust funding 9 42 60% 65%
Fund-raising activities 5 26 33% 40%
In-kind contributions from your organisation (e.g. room space / office equipment / admin costs not funded by CCF) 9 21 60% 32%
Donations 1 20 7% 31%
Other Scottish Government funding 1 17 7% 26%
Trading - e.g. selling goods (e.g. food produce) or services (e.g. consultancy) 1 14 7% 22%
Other (Total) 1 10 7% 15%
Renting / hiring out space 1 7 7% 11%
Subscriptions 1 5 7% 8%
Private sector 4 0% 6%
TOTAL 15 65

CCF Project Survey Q10: From which of the following sources did your organisation obtain funding or income to supplement the CCF grant for that project? Base =80

5.28 These findings highlight some success in introducing revenue-raising activities as part of CCF3, although the majority of the sources outlined in table 5.2 could be described as grants and additional income, rather than revenue-raising per se. There was evidence of similar (non-revenue) funding, such as other grants, from the case study interviews.

Summary: The refresh themes

5.29 The refresh themes appear to have been broadly, but not wholly, successful. The broaden theme has been particularly successful in accessing new, disadvantaged or hard-to-reach groups, and the development grants have been well-received, with a good uptake from disadvantaged groups. The JCCF and the focus on youth projects has been positively received, but also identified as an area for improvement in a future scheme. 73% (282) of the CCF3 projects and development grants came from groups new to the CCF, with 89% of the 96 development grant applicants from new groups.

5.30 The deepen theme was described as encouraging existing CCF groups to take projects to the next level and has been very positively received, although restrictions on continuing to undertake the same activity with the same community were a problem for some groups. The CASP programme was well-received, with training programme and networking activity feedback typically encouraging, although there were many calls to increase this activity, bring it closer to more rural groups and to increase, and more effectively target, support. There was also a suggestion that the Ideas Bank could be enhanced and better explained and understood. There was little take-up of this element of the scheme.

5.31 The explore theme was the least effective of the refresh themes in terms of number of projects delivered, but was acknowledged by many to be the most challenging. True innovation and adaptation projects were limited in number and there were suggestions that more support was needed for groups to develop such ideas. There were also few revenue-raising projects, but there is evidence to suggest that there is some diversification of funding sources across projects, with roughly half of CCF projects receiving income from elsewhere to supplement their CCF project.


Email: Debbie Sagar

Back to top