Ministry of Justice
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Grants for new ideas to get people involved in democracy
Fresh ideas for encouraging people to become involved in democracy will be rewarded with grants under a £150,000 government scheme aimed at charities, community groups and non-government organisations.
The Innovation Fund, launched by the Ministry of Justice today, will support projects developing new ways to help people participate in public discussions and influence government policy.
Democracy Minister Michael Wills said:
"Active participation is essential for a healthy and vigorous democracy. Through the Innovation Fund we are looking for new and interesting ways to get people engaged in the political life of their community."
This is the third time grants of up to £15,000 will be available for up to 10 of the best proposals for using online tools, face-to-face events or a combination of approaches.
Previous winners have included Speakers' Corner Trust, which established a speakers' corner and held a day of debate in Nottingham, and the South Kesteven District Council, which developed a process for online citizens' juries.
Another successful project was FixMyStreet website. Developed in 2006-2007, it allows people to tell their local authority and others in their area about broken civic infrastructure such as street lights. People can post photos of the problem on the website and tag a map to provide its precise location. The website automatically forwards the report to the appropriate authority.
In Norfolk, a Gallomanor Communications and Norfolk Council project encouraged civic leaders to blog. A Solent People's Theatre Project held creative workshops in Thanet District Council, Kent and South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire.
To present its idea or comment on those of others, organisations should go to the Innovations Fund website at http://www.buildingdemocracy.co.uk.
Applications close on 26 September 2008. Decisions will be announced in October.
Notes to Editors
1. For further information, including the criteria on which applications will be judged go to: http://www.buildingdemocracy.co.uk.
2. The Innovation Fund is linked to the Show Us A Better Way competition run by the Power of Information Taskforce (http://www.showusabetterway.co.uk), which is looking for good uses of public information. The Innovation Fund has a wider remit - looking for all types of ideas for improving public engagement.
3. In 2006 the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now the Ministry of Justice) launched the first phase of the Innovations Fund Project. The scheme aimed to provide early funding for building, testing and evaluating new tools to improve democratic engagement between government and the public.
4. Eight proposals were funded in 2006/07 and eight in 2007/08.
5. For public inquires, contact Jessica Ellis on 020 7210 0147; Jessica.Ellis@justice.gsi.gov.uk.