Councils across New South Wales have welcomed additional funding, though there is some concern that the money will not go where it is really needed.

NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Toole released guidelines this week for the $4 million Fit for the Future Innovation Fund.

Local Government NSW said it was a good start, but not enough to support all the councils that really need it.

“We welcome any additional funding for councils but are concerned that the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future Innovation Fund will not go far enough,” said LGNSW President, Councillor Keith Rhoades.

“If councils apply for the full grant, only 26 of the 52 eligible councils will be covered.”

The Innovation Fund is part of the Fit for the Future local government reform package and will provide one-off grants of up to $150,000 for projects promoting long-term sustainability in councils with populations of less than 10,000.

It is for regional and rural councils with small populations that are not slated to merge as part of Fit for the Future.

Grants of up to $400,000 will also be available for similar projects involving more than one council on the condition that at least one council has a population of less than 10,000.

Local Government NSW is concerned that if all 52 potentially eligible councils were to apply for the funding, the average amount available to each council will be just $80,000.

“The $4 million on offer will not go far at all towards assisting the small rural and regional councils that are being asked to implement long term improvement plans,” said Cr Rhoades.

“The sum was allocated when the government had plans to impose a ‘one size fits all’ rural council model, but these plans have been abandoned and the allocation of funding needs to catch up with the current expectation that these councils will be on a long-term improvement journey towards sustainability.

“In reality, the Fund provides only a fraction of the support needed.

“Local Government NSW will continue to advocate strongly for the resources needed by these councils and their communities.”