BLF and European Social Fund invite charities to apply to £175m Building Better Opportunities fund

Charities can apply for a share of the fund to run 71 projects in England, designed to improve numeracy, literacy, personal finance and other skills

The European Social Fund is overseen by the European Commission
The European Social Fund is overseen by the European Commission

Charities and social enterprises can apply for a share of grant funding worth a total of £175m to run 71 projects in England designed to improve numeracy, literacy, personal finance and other skills, provided by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

Last summer, the BLF said that more than £500m would be made available to voluntary organisations across England if match-funding negotiations between it and the European Commission, which oversees the ESF, came to fruition.

After consultations with the sector on the fund’s design, the BLF and the ESF said on Friday that they had committed a combined total of £174,521,600 to create the Building Better Opportunities fund, to fund the 71 new projects.

The schemes have been identified by local enterprise partnerships in collaboration with the BLF and range in value from £330,000 to £10.6m. The funding itself will be managed by the BLF; applications opened on Friday on its website.

A BLF statement said: "Projects will provide opportunities for people to improve numeracy, literacy and digital skills, build confidence and self-esteem, and better understand and manage their finances." Extra support will be given to projects working with socially excluded or hard-to-reach groups, the BLF said.

In addition, the BLF has awarded £950,000 to a partnership between the accountancy firm Baker Tilly and the policy consultancy Ecorys UK to support applicants and to help grant holders to understand, plan for and deliver the additional requirements that come with managing European funding.

A spokeswoman for the BLF said she expected further funding opportunities to open in the autumn, but said she could not comment on any amounts.

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