Funding news

£500m for voluntary organisations from Big Lottery Fund and Europe

Big Lottery Fund's matched funding proposal to make £500 million available to voluntary organisations.

New plans have been established to open up new funding opportunities from Europe to English voluntary organisations through the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). The European Structural and Investment Fund will aim to increase voluntary sector involvement in European funding. The fund will focus on social inclusion and will finance projects that address poverty and other social issues.

Big Lottery Fund (BLF) will match funding allocations from the European Union for regeneration projects, in a boost to the money available to LEPs. Big Lottery Fund will match over £260 million of lottery funding in England against a similar figure from ESIF and will be managed by BLF itself.

Priorities for 2014-2020 will be determined by LEPs as part of their local growth plans. The fund is intended to increase the participation of charities in delivering plans agreed by LEPs. The funds have now been localised in each LEP area according to individual LEP strategies and each area is now starting to explore possible partnerships. LEPs will be required to work closely with a variety of local partners, including key voluntary sector representatives, to unite perspectives of all parts of the local community.

To ensure that EU funds are able to address local needs, organisations can engage with their LEPs. If LEPs fully engage with community and voluntary organisations, funds will be delivered in a much more significant way. Many of these organisations are in a great position to understand and respond to the needs of local communities.

BLF will most likely host the application process on its website. Organisations will be expected to indicate that they are aiming to deliver projects that fit with the local priorities identified through the LEP strategy.

Delivery mechanisms will be finalised towards the end of the year and applications will open in early 2015. Until then, BLF will make £620,000 available over the summer of 2014 to connect voluntary organisations in order to ensure that they are involved in discussions and can start developing bids.