Consultation on new policy directions for the Big Lottery Fund


The Big Lottery Fund is the single largest funder of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in the UK. Around £700m (40% of National Lottery funding) is distributed each year to tackle advantage and improve lives throughout the UK.

As all Lottery distributors are public bodies they are answerable to parliament for how they distribute public money. The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) is required to distribute all of its Lottery income to charitable causes or for projects connected with health, education or the environment.

The existing policy directions for BLF were last set in 2012, and now the government is seeking views on revised directions in relation to its England and UK-wide funding programmes, aligning with its own policies and agenda, such as its ‘life chances strategy’, National Citizen Service, #iwill, promotion of British values, social investment and digital solutions.

The government says it intends to respect and reflect BLF’s own strategy focus on using the energy and assets of people and communities to improve their lives – which fits the Big Society narrative. The key principles of the new policy directions include:

  • a renewed focus on local engagement, which means “engaging people and local civil society organisations in how funding is used in their communities, enabling and catalysing local partnerships and collaborations between communities, public, private and civil society organisations”.
  • a new focus on variety and innovation, which means “distributing funds to a wide spread of projects, primarily those delivered by civil society organisations, in particular small and medium sized charities, or the organisations that support them, backing new and innovative approaches and organisations, as well as tried and tested models”.

In relation to spend in England, the consultation document says BLF shall take into account the following matters:
a) the need to operate within the Big Society policy context in England, adding value where appropriate to the aim of creating a fairer, freer and more responsible society where everyone has a part to play in improving their community and helping one another.
b) the need to ensure that money is distributed to projects that benefit local people and local communities.
c) the need to ensure that the distribution of money addresses one or more of the following priorities:

  1. strengthening life chances, social mobility and opportunities for all, including and supporting early years child development and parenting, and by complementing the government’s Life Chances Strategy.
  2. supporting and strengthening volunteering, social action and community action, with a particular focus on engaging young people in this activity to give them opportunities to develop vital skills for life and work.
  3. supporting communities to become stronger, more resilient and safer, including by promoting fundamental British values that support integration and unite communities, helping them become more cohesive, inclusive and tolerant.
  4. enabling communities to improve their health, education and environmental outcomes and multiple benefits across these areas.
  5. supporting the use of social investment as a means to improve sustainability and impact.
  6. strengthening the confidence, capability and sustainability of civil society organisations, including support for digital innovation.
  7. supporting and strengthening organisational infrastructure, capability and provision, particularly the youth sector.

The consultation closes at noon on 12 August.