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Big Lottery Update


The BIG Lottery Fund's announcement of a change of name for next year to the National Lottery Community Fund is only the most obvious and recent change to this important funder. Much else has also changed in recent months that applicants need to be aware of, as our Lottery specialist Claire Greenhalgh explains.


  • In 2017/18 LFG expected to award around £508 million. The previous year £700m was awarded
  • National lottery income fell by 15% in 2016/17 and further falls are expected. A 15% cut on the previous year would be £432. However, BLF has come under scrutiny from the Parliamentary Select Committee for increasing spending during a time of falling income The BLF has responded that they have a 7 year cycle and want to see if the ticket sales decline was really a trend for more than 2 years.
  • Obviously, this also affects Arts Council England, HLF, Sport England too. ACE seem best prepared, being the only one out of these four that didn't increase their liabilities last year
  • Camelot has forecast extra income for the next 2 years (next tender process is in 2019)
For this financial year in England:

  • Awards for All: unsure but expected to increase
  • Reaching Communities: £190m (still by far the biggest pot)
  • Partnership Programmes: £40m
  • Forces in Mind: £35m
Additional £20m for older people …

  • The government is putting £5m into a new fund with the Big Lottery Fund (also putting in £5m) and the Co-op (£1m). This is the Building Connections Fund and opened in July.
  • The funds will focus on: making the most of local spaces, opening them up for community use and helping businesses and local services combat isolation
  • The People's Postcode Trust is putting £5m into its own funding - the latest round for this opened in August
  • The People's Health Trust is putting £4m into its own funding
Awards for All
Key changes are:

  • Increase in funding for the overall pot
  • Now funds salaries (within context of projects)
  • Easier application form
  • 2 ways to apply: pdf form or online (pilot)
  • It is only anecdotal, but the forms are being considered a bit quicker than the online applications. There is not enough data for this to be totally true. However, it is clear that, with both application types, some are taking the full 14 weeks or more
  • Seem to have dropped the update report template but beware of audits
What this means for charities and consultants:

  • More charities may be inclined to go it alone. However, the application still needs consideration of activities, need and community involvement, so although the form has changed, the process for planning a project has not
  • Overall a much quicker process - more charities may wish to draft their own applications and seek help in the form of a steer or review
Reaching Communities
Key changes are:

  • Stage 1 application appears much simpler
  • Applications can be made online or via the local funding officer. However, the guidance may be different from the local officer to online (no word count via the officer!)
  • Whilst still the biggest programme, competition is likely to be stronger - last year, it was about 20-30% getting through stage 1, and 70% through the final stage. It is not clear yet what impact the new form will have on this
  • Local funding officer is now hugely important. Assessments will rely more on local intelligence and relationships. Whilst this is positive in many areas, a lot depends on the quality of staff and the initial indications are that experiences vary in different areas
  • It is unclear as yet how this changes Stage 2, but could go a number of ways: no change (which has happened in the past, other than tweaking the form), or a process which is a 'conversation' (this may be less unlikely as it is more time intensive - perhaps just for bigger applications)

    This is a programme focused on making grants to organisations who share responsibility and influence with others, who have a shared set of goals and values, and achieve their mission by starting with the bigger picture rather than just what their organisation can do on its own.
    The model being used may be a sign of future applications for bigger programmes. An application we have seen recently was for £500,000 which BLF is happy with and there is no form, just a 'continuous conversation' with headings for the proposal as follows:

  • Partnership
  • Programme Overview
  • Fit with BLF priorities
  • Activity and Engagement
  • Community Involvement
  • Aims and outcomes
  • Learning and Sharing
  • Equalities
  • Environment
  • Sustainability
  • Resources
  • Budget

Our impression is that these changes will take some time to bed down and that further changes may be on the way in future as the BLF continues to adapt to changes in funding and in its approach.

If you need help or advice in relation to National Lottery applications (whether Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund or Arts Council), please get in touch for a free initial chat on 01903 723519 or email

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