Big Lottery Fund 'eager to fund social enterprise'

Tania Mason

The Big Lottery Fund is keen to support social enterprise as well as charities and is likely to make loans as well as grants under its new programmes, its chief executive said last week.

In an interview with Third Sector, Stephen Dunmore said: "We are particularly keen to fund not just the mainstream charity sector but also social enterprise.

And loan finance is an obvious way for social enterprises to access funding for growth."

The three Big Lottery Fund programmes already open - People's Millions, Living Landmarks and the Young People's Fund - do not currently have the facility to make loans. But Dunmore said the fund would be examining all of its new programmes to identify whether there are areas where loans would be the most effective means of delivering outcomes.

Supporting social enterprise will not be an entirely new departure for the Big Lottery Fund. Although the old Community Fund's philanthropic and benevolent legal remit limited it to supporting charitable bodies, it did manage to fund some organisations concerned with social enterprise, and the New Opportunities Fund gave money to social enterprises as well as charities.

Dunmore said the fund had not decided what definition of social enterprise the BLF would use in choosing which bodies to fund.

But a good basis, he said, was the Treasury's cross-cutting review's definition of 'voluntary sector': "Bodies independent of the state, with motivations derived from values and social purposes rather than the pursuit of profit, and the reinvestment of surpluses in pursuit of these values rather than for private distribution."

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