Government seeks views on the Big Lottery Fund

The consultation runs until 21 August

< This story has been amended; see final paragraph

The government is seeking views on new directions for the Big Lottery Fund as part of an update of the guidelines governing how and why it gives out money.

The BLF operates independently of government in its individual funding decisions but is given a set of directions by ministers to ensure its overall strategy is broadly in line with government policy.

The government has proposed the first new set of directions since 2012 and opened a consultation asking whether the proposals match the BLF’s remit.

Proposals in the document include a direction that would requires the BLF to take into account "the desirability" of requiring partnership funding. It also calls for charities to take into account whether a project could deliver measureable outcomes.

Money distributed by the BLF, the proposed directions say, should go should be go towards issues such as strengthening social mobility; strengthening volunteering; supporting communities with integration, health, education and environmental outcomes; strengthening the capability and sustainability of civil society organisations; and supporting organisational infrastructure in the youth sector.

Jay Kennedy, policy and research director at the Directory of Social Change, said little had changed in the proposed new set of directions. But he warned that putting funding applicants in a position where they felt they had to apply for funding as a partnership could become "a hindrance to supporting good work and incentivise false partnerships".

Introducing the consultation document, Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "Our intent while drafting these policy directions has been to respect and reflect the fund’s own commitments and strategic priorities, as outlined in its framework, in combination with the government’s commitments and priorities for creating a bigger, stronger society." 

Kennedy said the BLF’s internal strategy was likely to have a much bigger effect on the grant-making body by less bureaucratic and more focused on the benefits of the projects it funds.

He said: "The broad aim seems to be to get the BLF to be more enabling and less bureaucratic in terms of how it’s supporting the people who come to it."

He said the aim was about trying to get conversations with organisations to understand what was important about what they were doing rather than looking at the potentially risky elements of the work they did. 

The consultation will run until 12 August.

< This story originally quoted Jay Kennedy saying that the new directions could make the BLF less bureaucratic and more focused on the benefits of the projects it funds. But Kennedy was in fact referring to the BLF’s internal strategy and not the new directions. 

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