BLF considers system of loans

The Big Lottery Fund is considering giving loans to third sector organisations as part of a possible overhaul of the way it distributes its cash.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the BLF, told delegates at the Navca annual conference in Nottingham that the fund was looking into how it could diversify its funding streams and was considering introducing loans as well as endowments.

Speaking to Third Sector, Wanless said he had an open mind about the idea, which will form part of a consultation exercise to be carried out in November.

"It is an open question in the context of us looking at how we can make the most of our money and whether other funding mechanisms have a part to play," he said.

"Grants are always going to have a major part to play in our funding portfolio, but we have to examine whether they are always the most appropriate."

If a charity was setting up an organisation or project that could have strong income streams in the future, an endowment or loan might be a better way of funding that, he said.

The National Lottery Act 2006 gave the BLF the power to offer funding in different forms.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, a local infrastructure umbrella body, said the organisation would be against the introduction of loans because it would reduce the amount available for grants.

"We are already seeing a reduction in grants across the board, and this would make the situation worse," he said. "Grant funding is what local groups need."

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