New round of Building Better Regions Fund opens

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Councils in drought-affected areas are encouraged to apply for the $200m fourth round of the Commonwealth’s Building Better Regions Fund (BRRF), which opened on 14 November and closes on 19 December.

There is money for both infrastructure projects and also grants for community investments, and all drought-hit councils can apply, not just the 128  eligible for the Australian Government’s Drought Community Programme Extension funding .

“Communities across the country are suffering from the effects of this prolonged dry-spell and this extra funding will help get local projects and infrastructure work under way to strengthen regional economies, keep tradies in work, and money generating through local stores,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said.

The infrastructure projects stream provides local councils, not-for-project groups, and cooperatives with grants of $20,000 to $10 million to cover 50 percent or more of a project’s cost.

Such projects can be either construction of new infrastructure, or the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure. 

Last week’s drought funding update also included a $50 million discretionary fund for council infrastructure projects.

In response, Acting ALGA President, Cr Linda Scott, said councils hoped the Commonwealth would allow flexibility in how that money is spent because the individual circumstances of each drought-affected council differs.

“Local governments, as the closest level of government to the community, understand what is required to support their communities effectively,” Cr Scott said.

“Whether this is infrastructure upgrades, buy local initiatives, projects to augment the water supply or local community events, councils will deliver projects that create local jobs, support local businesses, and build community wellbeing.”

The Community Investments Stream supports grants for $5,000 to $1m – but most will be under $100,000 – for projects such as local events, regional plans or leadership activities that that could provide economic and social benefits to regional and remote areas.

For small projects with a total grant amount of equal to or less than $20,000, grant funding will be up to 100 per cent of the eligible project’s costs, the Commonwealth said.

Eligibility

Councils need to provide evidence that their project is located in a drought-declared area.

This can include being in a Local Government Area eligible for the Commonwealth’s Drought Communities Programme – Extension, or in a locality drought-declared by the relevant state or territory government.

Successful applications will be announced in mid-2020.