Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

February 25, 2009

Last chance to submit views

Over the past few months the Big Lottery in Scotland has been canvassing views from the sector as to where the money should be going over the next few years (2009-2015). This is an important opportunity to shape BIG’s spending priorities – particularly as the overall pot will be much reduced. Consultation ends 27th Feb. LPL has made a contribution


Response from : Local People Leading – the voice for strong and independent communities

Q1. How can the Big Lottery Fund distinctively add value to the Scottish Government’s ambitions for a more successful Scotland that is ‘wealthier and fairer; smarter; healthier; safer and stronger and greener’?

There is a very fine balance to be struck between BIG adding value to the SG ambitions for Scotland and it being effectively subsumed into the broad package of SG funding streams and being alligned with Fairer Scotland Fund, Enterprising Third Sector funding programmes etc. There is much to be gained from BIG having a policy framework which is distinctively different and clearly separate from the Scottish Govt’s framework while at the same time being complimentary and clearly referenced to some specific aspects of the SG overarching purpose. To do this BIG should focus only on certain aspects of SG policy framework and maintain that focus over the course of the funding period – particularly important given the likely reduced levels of funds available. A continued emphasis on directing investment into communities will generate outcomes that relate to the Scottish Government’s ambitions but through the specific prism of building the resilience and sustainability of the community sector.

Q2. Do the current outcomes for Scotland provide a sensible, workable and flexible framework for the Big Lottery Fund? Are there gaps in these which prevent BIG from responding to current and future need? Are there outcomes which need to be removed or changed?

Current outcomes continue to make sense as a framework for BIG

Q3. Does Investing In Communities need to be improved or revised to help communities and voluntary organisations deal with the current and future challenges facing people and communities in Scotland? If so, how?

Overall, we would argue the framework for Investing In Communities should be persisted with on the basis that any programme of this size is going to require a significant period of time to “bed in” in order that its operation can be understood by all sides and for the long term benefits to be fully appreciated. Short termism and an over-readiness to change direction in the past, has been to the detriment of many funding schemes being able to maximize their potential benefits. If there were to be a substantial change in direction or approach at this stage, an enormous amount of ‘work in progress’ would be lost. We are confident that a sustained period of stability in approach will result in a continued improvement in terms of quality and range of projects and in particular in the specific areas of priority where the hoped for return has been less evident to date.

Q4. Should Investing in Communities be adjusted to reflect the new circumstances and policy framework for the third sector in Scotland, in particular how should it best add value to, or complement, the Scottish Government’s Enterprising Third Sector Action Plan?

see answer to question 1

Q5. How can the Big Lottery Fund’s resources build a more sustainable third sector into the future?

Continue to place the highest possible value on communities acquiring assets and consolidate progress by learning from the experience of GCA where particular issues arose during the application process which had a detrimental impact on morale and capacity levels of communities. In particular these related to some tensions between the dual role of project development and project assessment from within the consortium and the lack of consistency of message being conveyed to potential applicants. Also, the requirement which BIG placed on communities to obtain a substantially discounted price in respect of assets acquired from the public sector has proved to be a major barrier and the inflexibility with which this requirement has been applied has undoubtedly restricted the progress of many worthwhile projects.

Also we would argue for a more focussed approach in terms of targeting asset based investment at ‘community anchor orgs’ in order to achieve best value and meeting long term community empowerment objectives. CAOs typically play a broader support and enabling role in relation to local networks of informal voluntary organizations and therefore by prioritising these organisations would represent best use of what will be a reduced overall pot of available funding.

Q6. Through Investing in Communities, the Big Lottery Fund has tried to support people in need and also fund work that can help prevent need occurring. It has also invested in projects that make it easier for people, communities and organisations to deal with need when it arises. Should BIG continue the approach of supporting both work that helps people in need now and work that helps prevent need occurring?

Yes, both approaches should continue to be followed. However the balance should be in favour of building community resilience and the capacity of local people to respond to new problems and needs as they arise within their communities. This is the only approach which has the potential to leave a legacy of sustainable community action which will prevent the same needs recurring time after time.

Q7. Single Outcome Agreements and Community Planning Partnerships are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s policy agenda. Funding and decision-making on many policy areas have been streamlined and devolved. Should BIG take account of these structures as an indication of local need and priorities, or is it important to provide flexible funding that is not linked to these agreements?

No, BIG should not use SOAs or the CPP structures as a means of assessing local need. It is important that there should be some consistency across the country in terms of priorities and access to BIG funding. CPPs are highly inconsistent across the country in terms of the value they place on engaging with our sector and the extent to which SOAs are designed to reflect the needs of the community sector – many do not even make mention of the contribution of the voluntary sector.

Q8. Is there a particular role for BIG to add value in this context by focusing support on community engagement within these new local structures?

There is a danger that CPP partners absolve themselves of responsibility if BIG were to do this. However added value could be achieved if there was a recognition from CPP partners that communities require to have control of their own resources to enable them to develop more effective ways to engage with CPP process. BIG support could be matched by CPPs and invested into a resource under community control. Thus, BIG’s support would be catalytic in raising overall levels of engagement in CCP structures

Q9. How can the Big Lottery Fund help businesses and voluntary organisations work together to make a difference in communities?

BIG could target some funds towards areas of economic/commercial activity where potential synergies could be developed. For instance in the development of renewable energy projects BIG could invest in communities specifically to enable them to partner private sector developers and thereby generate significant long term community assets. In addition BIG could target resources to fund programmes of mentoring and inter-sector placements to foster greater understanding at a local level.

Q10. Should BIG engage in developing opportunities for sectors to work together to solve problems or sustain solutions? What role can BIG play, through its funding and its partnerships, to support innovation?

Yes. BIG can create the ‘space’ to open up the dialogue and make the linkages between sectors. BIG should take advantage of the fact that Scotland is of a scale which means sector intermediaries, key partnerships and alliances are relatively few. Although the government on occasion attempt to orchestrate change, the levers at their disposal are relatively crude. BIG is uniquely placed to bring a national knowledge of the different sectors (and sub sectors) and funding to facilitate these desired actions.