National Lottery Community Fund ramps up focus on ‘areas with highest levelling up need’

The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) is increasingly focusing its funding on the UK’s most disadvantaged areas, which have been pinpointed through the government’s levelling up agenda as having the highest need.

Figures for the NLCF over the last five years show that 42% of its funding goes to these high priority areas for the government.

It adds that the half of local areas with the highest levelling up need receive 63% of all its funding.

For 2020/21 the value of NLCF funding in the highest priority levelling up areas in England was 14% higher than the average over the previous three years, with the number of grants handed out in these communities 60% higher.

Based on the Onward think tank’s Social Fabric Index, one in ten areas with the highest need receive the largest proportion of funding, of 16%.

The NLCF figures also show that from 2016/17 to 2020/21 it has handed out £3.4bn to good causes, through 72,000 grants.

“In a typical year, grant holders collectively support around 5.2m beneficiaries across the lifetime of their grant,” says the NLCF.

“Next year we’ll be renewing our strategy – this report lays foundations that will ensure we will continue to be responsive to communities, helping them to build back from the pandemic, prosper and thrive,” added NLCF chief executive David Knott.

“By continuing to target our funding to where it is needed most and by using our resources carefully, we’ll ensure that National Lottery funding will still be making the greatest possible impact well into the future.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced last month that 100 areas across the UK will be allocated £1.7bn “to invest in the infrastructure of everyday life”.

However, charity sector leaders have raised concerns that the government’s levelling up agenda is focused too heavily on infrastructure projects rather than tackling inequality.

Charities Aid Foundation chief executive Neil Heslop said: “Whilst the focus on local infrastructure is understandable, social infrastructure is important for a successful recovery.

"We urge the government to collaborate to give charities a greater voice, which will be key to addressing the health and social inequalities seen across the country.”

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