Lottery system 'is too complex'

A 'single front door' system to make it simpler for charities to apply for funds is among the subjects the Big Lottery Fund will ask about in a major new consultation from next week.

Wanless: Launching a new consultation.
Wanless: Launching a new consultation.

The Big Thinking consultation, which will start on 17 November, will ask organisations around the UK how the BLF should distribute the money it receives until 2015.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the BLF, said the consultation, which will cost £400,000, would assess how funding could be most efficiently funnelled to those in need and what the fund could provide better than anyone else.

He said the BLF was hoping to make it as easy as possible to apply for funding, partly by scrapping "a programmatic structure that has been overcomplicated for applicants to get their heads around.

"We want to offer a single front door, a single application form and just three different funding streams. We're conscious that some of our application processes are very paper-heavy, and we want to change that."

Better customer service was also high on his list of priorities, according to Wanless.

He hoped for a "new knowledge and information system that will sit at the heart of everything we do", with simpler electronic systems, especially for repeat users.

He said that he also wanted to know whether the Big Lottery Fund should attempt to find new funding models.

"A lot of people have said to us that we're in a position to innovate, much more than other people," he said. "But is there a place on this spectrum of innovation and tradition where people most want us to be?"

It was also vital that any good practice the BLF had developed was shared, Wanless said.

"We've done a lot of work on how to act as a good funder," he said. "It's vital that we help others learn from that, rather than having to reinvent the wheel."

The consultation, which will run until the end of February, will be promoted through a number of regional events, a Facebook group and direct approaches to important stakeholders.

A dedicated website, www.big-thinking.org.uk, will feature an online consultation document, content generated by users, postcards, videos of funded projects, a discussion forum and a blog by Wanless.

Wanless has already revealed that, as part of the consultation, the BLF will be asking for views on whether it should start to offer loans to third sector organisations (Third Sector Online, 17 September).

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