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June 23, 2010

Lottery still committed to asset agenda

The Big Lottery’s commitment to seeing more communities owning and managing assets looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.  Next week sees the launch of the second phase of its Growing Community Assets programme. This time round there are going to be some subtle shifts in emphasis – much greater priority on meeting local need and also in making sure that the assets deliver sustainable income streams for the community.  Some aspects of the last programme will remain

Open letter from Big Lottery 

As you may know the Big Lottery Fund has been working to revise and re-open our main funding programme in Scotland. And after a period of deliberation and re-design our new portfolio will open for business on 30 June this year. I thought you might appreciate an update on our plans.  

We will continue to help communities to have more control and influence over their own future through the ownership of assets and will still have an investment area called Growing Community Assets (GCA). While this sounds familiar, we have overhauled the outcomes we want to see in GCA to be much more specific and defined. This is because we want to be able to make a clear-cut impact with our funding and to reduce the amount of time and resources invested by applicants and us in applications which are ultimately unsuccessful. We have learned from consultation that we are at our best when we are clear about what we fund and are able to give early advice about what projects are likely to be successful.

GCA will continue to make communities stronger and more sustainable by helping them to acquire, manage and develop assets that provide quality services and amenities. Our experience of funding asset development tells us that community ownership of an asset is most likely to lead to the outcomes we want to achieve through GCA. By having complete control of the asset through ownership rather than leasehold, communities have the power to make the changes needed to benefit their community in the long term.  

However, in this next phase of GCA, we will place much greater emphasis on the need for assets to generate income streams that will support and secure the long term sustainability not only of the assets, but also of the communities in which they are located.  

And in addition to emphasising financial viability, this time around GCA will focus much more strongly on tackling need. We want to fund projects that tackle needs in communities. To do this we will expect applicants to show how they have identified needs through consultation with people in their communities, as well as how their projects are the best way for these communities to address their needs. The kinds of need we might expect applicants to identify include a lack of employment due to the closure of a major local employer, or a shrinking population due to the lack of opportunities for young people.

The sharper focus on financial viability and need is reflected in the outcomes we have set for GCA, all four of which we will expect all projects to achieve. The four outcomes are:
• Communities work together to own and develop local assets
• Communities are sustainable and improve their economic, environmental and social future through the ownership and development of local assets
• Communities develop skills and knowledge through the ownership and development of local assets
• Communities overcome disadvantage and inequality through the ownership and development of local assets.

We will launch the full details of our new approach to GCA on 30 June. I hope you will also be interested in the broader improvements to the way that we work including: more commitment to equalities, the environment and empowerment; more development support for applicants; greater contact with BIG staff; and a clearer approach to outcomes and tracking project success. And we plan to maintain the cornerstones of our funding approach that you and others endorsed: grants between £10,000 and £1 million, five year funding, and full-cost recovery.