The Big Lottery Fund has confirmed this morning that it will be matching funds with the European Social Fund to provide joint investment for 71 local projects across England worth £175m.
BIG announced in Feburary it would "take steps to ensure" that charities would win more EU grant money, and that a £550m pot of grant funding would made available.
This announcement is the first tranche of that funding.
Funding for 71 community projects across 25 Local Enterprise Areas (LEPs) has been confirmed this morning. Projects which aim to tackle poverty, promote social inclusion and drive jobs and growth in local areas were the main recipients of the first round of match funding.
The regions which received the most funding include the West Midlands, where nine individual projects received £32m – with four projects in the Black Country receiving a share of £22.9m alone - and the North West, where four projects received £25.9m.
Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund (pictured) said: "These projects focus on solutions developed at a local level, from customised programmes for carers seeking flexible work to support for people to create new local social enterprises."
Today’s announcement represents the first tranche of funding opportunities. A Big Lottery Fund spokeswoman told Civil Society News that “grant activity would commence early 2016” for the 71 projects in the first tranche.
A second round of funding will be made available in autumn 2015. The Big Lottery Fund expect this second round of funding to be expanded to a further 12 LEPs across England, taking the total number to 37.
Projects already open for applications include: two projects in London which “support out of work carers”, one project in Hampshire and Surrey which will “support people furthest from the labour market to improve skills” and a project in Greater Lancashire to “support people with financial and debt problems”.
Applicants have until 12 noon, Monday 3 August 2015 to submit an application form for the first round of funding. This process is expected to be finished in the spring of 2016.
The joint investment of projects between the Big Lottery Fund and the European Support Fund, is part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme. When asked by Civil Society News whether the UK’s mooted referendum on EU membership would affect the joint-funding agreement, the spokeswoman said: “Any referendum is unlikely to happen before next year at the earliest.
"Even if the vote is to leave the EU then it will take some time to sort this through and the first round of Building Better Opportunities would remain unaffected. This is one of the many reasons why we have committed to review our involvement after three years.”
£950,000 has also been awarded to accountancy firm Baker Tilly in order to “support potential applicants” and to help with the additional requirements that come with managing European funding for grant holders.