Fund postpones decisions on two programmes

Hundreds of charities that applied to the Big Lottery Fund's £25m Research programme and its £76m Young People's Fund learned last week their verdicts had been deferred from July until September.

A fund spokesman said the Research programme was over-subscribed with 261 applicants and the fund needed more time to "identify suitably specialised peer reviewers" who could assess applications. Some proposals, he added, were so complex that overseas peer reviewers had to be found.

He said the Young People's Fund was delayed because more time was needed to train young people, who make up half of the decision-making panel.

Stephen Woollett, chief executive of South West Forum, which represents charities in the south west, is among those awaiting a verdict. He called for the establishment of a Compact agreement between the fund and charities in which it pledged to make decisions on time. "If we miss a deadline, we miss out," he said. "If the BLF does not meet one, it should be a Compact breach."

John Bunting, chief executive of Exeter CVS, which has also applied, said the delay was "a great disappointment" and made planning difficult.

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