Government invites charities offering critical services to apply to £71m fund

24 Jul 2023 News

The government has opened a £70.9m fund to applications from charities today as part of £101.5m pledged to the sector in this year’s spring budget.

The National Lottery Community Fund will distribute grants from the Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund, to which charities can apply until 16 October this year.

In an exclusive interview with Civil Society, charities minister Stuart Andrew said: “Everybody’s been working so flat out to try and get this to the point where we’re at today”.

Application criteria

Small and medium-sized charities, social enterprises and community organisations in England, with an annual turnover of “between £10,000 and around £1m”, are eligible to apply for grants between £10,000 and £75,000.

Applicant organisations must offer at least one critical service: food and emergency supplies, emergency shelter, safe spaces, warmth, and financial or housing advice.  

Organisations must also be facing both increased demand for their critical services and increased costs of delivering them.

Charities can apply for funding to cover the costs of delivering existing services between 24 July 2023 and 31 March 2024, including paying for rent, utilities, staff and volunteers.

They can also spend the funds on adapting or expanding services from the point of award until the end of March 2024.

Larger organisations can also apply if they can show that they “work closely and effectively with local communities” and “fill a gap in essential local services”.

Remainder of spring budget funding

Today’s announcement offers the first details of how the £101.5m announced in the spring budget will be distributed.

Some £70.9m is available in funding with £5.1m being used for “administrative fees, evaluation and assurance”. 

The remaining £25.5m will be used to fund energy efficiency and sustainability in organisations over the next two years. More details on this tranche of funds are due to be announced this autumn. 

Minister: ‘This package is coming to help charities’

Andrew told Civil Society: “One of the loud things I heard right at the very beginning [of my time in the role] was those charities that were providing services to people around provision of food, or warmth, or housing or advice on finances were really struggling, because they particularly were seeing an uptick in their level of need.

“We spent a fair bit of time trying to put the package together, spoke to the Treasury, and were delighted when we got the money. I’d say everybody’s been working so flat out to try and get this to the point where we’re at today.

“Charities can start applying for it and we can get the money to them as quickly as possible. It feels really good that this package is coming to help them.”

You can read Stuart Andrew’s full interview with Civil Society here.

Support is ‘urgently needed’, say sector bodies

NCVO chief executive Sarah Vibert welcomed the announcement and said the financial support on offer was “urgently needed”.
“We know that charities faced with rising costs and falling income are struggling to meet increased need in communities – the extent of which should not be underestimated,” she said.
“With partners across the sector we have campaigned relentlessly over the past year to highlight the strain that organisations are under to meet ever increasing need.

“Organisations that are supporting people and community by providing food and emergency supplies, emergency shelters, safe spaces, warmth and financial or housing advice have been a lifeline to so many.

“We welcome this recognition from government of the vital role of the voluntary sector and hope this funding will help organisations to support communities into the winter ahead.”

Richard Sagar, head of policy at CFG, also welcomed the announcement.

“We’re delighted that the government has heard the sector and recognises that it is a force for good,” he said.

“But what really matters is this money will soon be making a very real and positive difference to people and the communities they live in.”

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