Awards for All England to close

Awards for All England, the lottery grants scheme for community groups, will close in its existing form in March.

The Big Lottery Fund has announced that Awards for All England will close, but groups will still have access to equivalent levels of lottery funding through programmes run by the four providers that administer the current scheme.

Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sport England and the Big Lottery Fund will handle applications individually through existing or new programmes.

The scheme, which has been running for seven years, offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 to small groups and community organisations.

A spokeswoman for the BLF said the new system would make the application forms shorter, but the total amount of money available would remain the same.

Groups whose work falls into more than one category will be able to apply to more than one provider, she said.

Ben Wittenberg, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, said there was a lack of transparency about how the decision to implement the new structure was made.

"With all grant funding schemes, it's impossible to backtrack to see if new systems are better than what came before them," he said. "Thousands of organisations depend on these grants, so any kind of administrative change will have a big impact on them."

The new system could create problems for some groups, which might now have to apply for more than one source of funding, said Wittenberg. The biggest concern was that there was no guarantee that funding levels would remain the same, he added.

Awards for All will continue to run in Scotland, operated by the Big Lottery Fund and Sportscotland. The Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland will give grants through its own schemes, while the Scottish Arts Council will form a new organisation, Creative Scotland, to distribute the money.

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