Lottery Fund provides £100m more in grants

The Big Lottery Fund is making an extra £100m available to charities that applied for the final round of Community Fund grants, a 50 per cent increase on the £200m originally announced.

The volume of applications to Community Fund programmes this year was 123 per cent higher than in the same period last year. The extra money will be available only to those who have already applied.

The fund says successful applicants will be notified as decisions are made, but the final deadline for decisions has been extended from November to February 2006.

A spokeswoman for the Big Lottery Fund said: "We looked at our current levels of funding and realised that we had more money available than we thought. So we decided to allocate it to voluntary and community groups, as that is where the most demand was from."

The fund has also published budget details and launch dates for its new programmes, which are set to be worth £2.3bn over the next four years. The first two, Children's Play and Environmental, will open in November, with others following in December, March and June.

Between 60 and 70 per cent of all UK funding will go to the sector, and at least one-third of the total will be demand-led, rather than for strategic programmes designed around the fund's own themes and outcomes. Demand-led grant streams will be launched in December, although annual budgets for this are yet to confirmed by the fund.

The NCVO welcomed the £100m extra funding. Stuart Etherington, its chief executive, said: "The high volume of applications proves the importance of this funder to the sector, and underlines the need for it to continue with new programmes. We will continue to press for lottery funding to voluntary organisations to be protected."

- See News, page 2.

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