Lottery £50m to shelter VCS from funding cuts
A funding lifeline of at least £50 million to support hundreds of vital Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) projects and services is being announced today by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
The full impact on the VCS of cutbacks is still to come according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which estimates that voluntary and community groups will face a reduction in public funding of over £900 million by 2016, losing a total of £2.8 billion in that period.
Demand for services is expected to increase and BIG is planning its £50million cash injection in response to be awarded before the end of the financial year, bolstering the sector as it deals with the developing impact of funding cuts.
As part of the funding package, BIG has made £17million available to fund an additional 650 charitable and community projects through its two main open grants programmes, Reaching Communities and Awards for All. The grants, which have been made to a range of projects from family support schemes to employment and debt advice services, are designed to help the sector meet increased demand for support from communities and individuals most in need.
Over the next few months, BIG will also be offering grants of up to £10,000 to close to 1,000 existing BIG grant holders in the last 18 months of their projects to review the way they work and explore ways of becoming more sustainable. Activities could include developing a more effective operating model, partnership working, or finding new ways to deliver activities in future.
Projects that are having a particularly significant impact will also receive an additional year’s worth of funding to continue their project and carry out plans to make their projects more sustainable in the long term.
Nat Sloane, Chair of BIG’s England Committee, said: “We have listened to the sector who have made it very clear that the next few months are going to be a very difficult. There is likely to be a gradual and cumulative impact as services reduce or are withdrawn, and household income for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people and families in our society reduces further still.
“We have put a package together in response that allows us to support these services and projects to ensure they are getting the funding when they need it and to help them prepare for the increasingly difficult funding environment.
Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) said: “This funding will provide some welcome relief for the sector during these challenging times, and help voluntary organisations to continue providing vital services.”