Building Better Opportunities – Big Lottery Fund

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Building Better Opportunities

The Big Lottery Fund is for the first time matching funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 to provide joint investment in 71 local projects tackling the root causes of poverty, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.

Projects will provide opportunities for people to improve numeracy, literacy and digital skills, build confidence and self-esteem, and better understand and manage their finances. Extra support will be given to hard to reach and socially-excluded groups, including people with disabilities, mental health or addiction issues, those who are homeless, ex-offenders and people living in isolated rural areas.

The Big Lottery Fund is working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across England who have identified projects that best meet local need and priorities. From 5 June 2015 organisations can apply for funding to deliver these projects.

Funding will be available for projects delivering against the ‘Promoting Social Inclusion and Combating Poverty’ part of ESF.

Projects will need to meet local priorities as defined by each LEP. These priorities can be viewed on the interactive map.

Examples of the types of projects that could receive funding include those that seek to improve employability for the most disadvantaged, help those with multiple and complex needs, or improve financial literacy, amongst many others.

Applications will need to be made in response to one of the project outlines which will describe each specific funding opportunity that is available through the programme and set out what each project aims to achieve and the areas or groups of people that it needs to target. Funding will only be available for one project per project outline. Although each project outline is different, there are five key principles that unite them.

Projects must:

  • Help the most disadvantaged– as the economy strengthens and the labour market becomes more competitive, people who are out of work or not job-ready could find it increasingly difficult to find employment. Some groups of people are more disadvantaged than others when it comes to finding work and it is these individuals that Building Better Opportunities aspires to help.
  • Tackle social exclusion– social exclusion profoundly affects people’s physical and mental health. This lack of wellbeing can have a significant impact on an individual’s confidence and motivation to engage fully with support services, preventing them from seizing opportunities to improve their personal circumstances. Social exclusion contributes to disadvantage and can also lead to people being out of work. So rather than just treating the symptoms, projects must help address the root causes of poverty and exclusion that are barriers to an individual seeking work.
  • Be focused on the capabilities of each individual– projects are expected to build on people’s strengths by developing their skills and talents to help them overcome the challenges they face. To achieve this, activities need to be focused on the needs of each individual through tailored packages of support that go far beyond simply providing advice. Key to this will be ensuring the people who will benefit have a genuine and ongoing role in how the project is designed and delivered. Getting people into work will be just one of the measures that will be used to track the success of the project. An individual’s progression, resulting from this targeted support, will be just as important.
  • Lead to better coordinated services– in the main, services will need to be delivered in partnership between organisations that already have expertise in working with those most in need. There is a range of services across England that can support people in difficulty, but they can sometimes lack clear coordination at a local level. Facilitating connections and joining up such services would help address this gap and foster stronger working relationships that can help remove the key barriers to employability for the most disadvantaged people.
  • Create new opportunities for work– the success of Building Better Opportunities is constrained, in part, by the work available, so it is just as important to think about creating new opportunities as it is to improve an individual’s work readiness. It is therefore essential that there is engagement with employers to ensure there are pathways for people to progress into work. Consideration will also be given to funding projects that directly support new employment or volunteering opportunities, such as activities that help people who are out of work to gain the skills they need to become self-employed or set up new social enterprises.

Project participants who will directly benefit from the project must all be:

  • Legally resident in the UK and able to take paid employment in European Union member states.
  • Unemployed or economically inactive.

Projects must add value, so they do not duplicate provision that can be arranged locally through existing mainstream institutions and statutory bodies.

The majority of project outlines will specify that particular target groups are benefiting from activities. These relate to the groups of people that are considered a priority by the European Commission:

  • People with parental or carer responsibilities.
  • People with health issues and disabilities.
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME).
  • Refugees and recent migrants.
  • People aged over 50 with few or no qualifications and not in employment.
  • Low-income, single-earner households with children where one partner is not working.
  • Disabled people.
  • Those out of contact from the labour market.
  • Ex-offenders and offenders.
  • Homeless people.
  • Workers with low or no skills.

Grants will start from £330,000.

Development grants and a support service providing advice on the technical aspects of ESF may also be available.

The third round is now open for projects in the LEP areas of Coast to Capital, Enterprise M3, Greater Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and Thames Valley Berkshire. deadline is 16 May 2016 (midday).

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