The Big Lottery Fund unveils new funding strategy

Voluntary sector will receive at least 80 per cent of funds and an extra £45m for the recession

The Big Lottery Fund is providing an extra £45m to help charities through the recession and has pledged to give at least 80 per cent of its funds to voluntary and community groups rather than the current 60 to 70 per cent.

The news came in its announcement today of its funding strategy for the  for the next six years. The strategy follows its Big Thinking consultation, which asked stakeholders and the public how its budget for new funding programmes should be spent.

The extra £45m, which will be distributed in the current financial year, includes an extra £20m for the Reaching Communities scheme in England, £7m for its Basis programme, which works to increase capacity in the sector, £5m for its Awards for All, which gives grants of between £300 and £10,000 to grassroots groups, and between £1m and £3m each for programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, told Third Sector the extra £45m would come from budgets that would otherwise have been used to create new grant programmes when existing programmes reached their closing dates.

The new BLF strategy says future funding will be focused on projects that reduce isolation, empower communities and help people through "key transitions" such as redundancy and bereavement. It says the fund "will be unashamedly assertive in taking risks to address unpopular or challenging issues that have been neglected by other funders".

Wanless said the new strategy would mean that the Big Lottery Fund's committees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have to rethink their portfolios and design new programmes that fit with these aims.

He said the reprioritisation would mean less money from the BLF for public sector bodies and for groups that did not fit the organisation's new vision.

Wanless also said the decision to spend at least 80 per cent of BLF money on the voluntary and community sector at the expense of  public bodies was in response to a "vociferous" demand from the sector during the Big Thinking consultation.

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