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Welsh MPs lunch and the question of open/demand led-programmes

15 January 2009

There was a good turn out of MPs from constituencies across Wales for lunch at the House of Commons on Tuesday.
In Wales we are proposing that around half the money BIG distributes should be through open/demand-led programmes (either Awards for All, our extremely popular small grants scheme or People and Places for bigger proposals.)  We have identified four specific areas in which we believe BIG’s money can make a particularly significant impact in the period ahead and are seeking views on those:

Community assets – where we are looking to help more community organisations to manage and acquire local facilities;

Older people – helping them feel less isolated and more engaged with local activities;

Climate change – helping communities reduce their local carbon footprint and deliver noticeable environmental benefit;

Building the capacity of the citizen’s voice – helping more people participate in the design and development of their local services.

We also spoke about an intriguing link up we are developing with the Welsh European Funding Office where BIG is looking to link some money of ours together with cash from Europe so that organisations need only make one application when they might previously have been chasing two sources of funding with very different application processes.  This isn’t easy to pull off but shows an imaginative way in which we are trying to make things easier for the customer of grant funding.

The MPs asked quite a few questions about the distribution of money across Wales and we discussed ways in which we could work with areas in which fewer quality applications were apparently coming forward and the trade off between spending money on this development work versus simply getting money out of the door to projects that were ready to go.  We also talked about how economic developments were likely to impact upon needs in the period ahead and how the BIg Lottery Fund could best play a part there.  That was timely and topical because I headed straight from this meeting to an update with the Third Sector Minister Kevin Brennan on the OTS’s forthcoming Action Plan for the economic downturn.

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