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Reaching Communities: Response to Kevin Curley’s tweets

16 February 2010
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Our good friend Kevin Curley at NAVCA has been tweeting about the changes that the Big Lottery Fund is making to its flagship Reaching Communities programme.  You can follow Kevin at www.twitter.com/kevincurley Let me put a few matters straight in the light of Kevin’s comments which I welcome in so far as it is great to have public debate about where and how BIG makes the very best use of good cause funding available to us.

Kevin suggests that the dedicated stream of funding for capital projects that we have promised to introduce is included within the figure of “at least £100 million a year” we have earmarked for Reaching Communities in England. That is not the case. This stream of funding will be on top of that figure.  Kevin is worried that Reaching Communities will be heavily oversubscribed.  Of course our funding is popular and there are many more good causes than we have cash available.

But success rates have been more like 1 in 4 than 1 in 12 in recent times.  What is more, the changes we have announced will enable more projects to get an earlier signal as to whether they are likely to be successful or not.  This will save them the effort of making nugatory bids and it will release money we would spend on administering those ultimately unsuccessful bids for more productive purposes.

Kevin suggested that “if Government really wanted BIG to serve the people’s interests there would only be Reaching Communities”. I agree with Kevin that Reaching Communities is a great programme. That’s why we are promising it at least £100m a year compared with £60m in recent times. But I don’t believe it should be the only show in town.

Lots of Kevin’s members would, I am sure, be keen that we continued funding our small grants scheme, Awards for All, in a big way.  But in addition, some communities struggle with playing the RC bidding game.

If we only funded via RC, “cold spots” that failed to access their “fair share” of Lottery money would persist.  That’s why we are developing a place-based programme that awards cash to people and places that might have great ideas but currently lack the wherewithal to succeed in accessing RC to support them.   Finally, at least for now, Kevin mischievously suggests we have been instructed to hold some money back for an incoming Government’s priorities.  I can assure you – and him – that this is not the case.

PS – if you want to follow me on Twitter it’s www.twitter.com/peterwanless

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