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May 16, 2012

Learn from what worked

The New Deal Programme in England has often been described as one of the bravest and most successful social policies of the last Labour Government.  Very large investments into long term programmes of regeneration (10 years) run by locally led organisations transformed some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Yet, as so often happens with success stories like this, a change of government saw the programme ditched.  Perhaps not all the lessons have been forgotten.


England director Dharmendra Kanani says the BLF will put hundreds of millions of pounds into initiatives lasting up to eight years

Announcing its priorities in England to 2015, the BLF said it could award between £100m and £150m in each of three or four cause areas to fund schemes lasting up to eight years.

The funder will decide on the geographical areas in England with the greatest need that it wants to target over the next few months for the long-term funding. Partnerships, which could include charities, community groups and councils, can apply for grants to develop their schemes and, if the pilots are successful, they can get longer-term funding.

One of the cause areas would be tackling entrenched problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. Another would be projects for older people, and two more cause areas are yet to be announced.

Dharmendra Kanani, BLF’s England director, said: “Rather than tackle them in silos, we want to look at where they come together and have a negative impact.”

He said he did not yet know how many projects would be supported, but the BLF was keen to be able to measure the impact of the projects.

Kanani said the BLF was considering the use of social investment in some projects in various funding programmes, where appropriate, and helping projects develop the skills to attract social investors.

A spokesman for the BLF said it had the power to make loans. “But we really want to understand where we can add value and what would be most appropriate. We cannot make a profit on anything, so if we were to make a loan, in that respect we would have to think about how that requirement would work.”