Wanless, who was previously director of the Families Group at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, will take over from Stephen Dunmore when he steps down in January.
In his former role, Wanless developed the cross-government strategy on families. Prior to that he was director of school performance and reform, having joined the department as director of strategy and communications in 1998. And before that he worked at the Treasury.
“I am sure Peter will be a worthy successor to Stephen Dunmore,” said Sir Clive Booth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund. “He joins the fund at an exciting and challenging juncture, as we move into a period of public consultation on our future programmes post-2009 and at a time when competition for our good cause funding has never been more intense.”
Booth added that the fund had gone from strength to strength under Dunmore’s leadership. “The BLF has broken new ground in making funding more accessible, involving the public and, above all, concentrating on making a difference at grass-roots level, particularly in the voluntary and community sector,” he said.
Wanless said: “This is a hugely important organisation with the ability to transform communities and the lives of people in need, often in imaginative ways that directly involve the people themselves.
“Stephen is a hard act to follow, but I am really looking forward to ensuring that we build on the progress to date in ways that bring long-lasting benefits to communities throughout the UK.”