Minister launches Local Sustainability Fund

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson has announced the launch of the anticipated Local Sustainability Fund, with an initial investment of £20m.

The fund will provide grants to around 250 organisations working in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector over two years.

Big Lottery Fund will deliver the LSF. The fund will provide grants that will enable recipients to implement organisational changes and access professional advice.

“The key principles behind the fund are simple: put smaller voluntary organisations in a position to change,” Wilson said in a speech. “Allowing them to find the time, support and critical challenge, to start to make the necessary changes to deliver a sustainable service to their users.”

The first stage of the LSF programme requires organisations to enter their details into an organisational diagnostic tool and an LSF eligibility checker. The tool allows organisations to understand their strengths and weaknesses better, and every organisation that fills it out will receive a sustainability report.

Once an organisation has submitted its sustainability report to the Big Lottery Fund, a selection of suitable applicants will be invited to make a more detailed application at the second stage.

It is expected that successful organisations will receive their first grant payment in March 2016. Average grant size is expected to be £70,000.

A £40m Local Sustainability Fund was originally proposed over a year ago. National Association for Voluntary and Community Action chief executive Neil Cleeveley said he is relieved the fund has finally been launched, even if it is less money than promised.

“Rob Wilson deserves praise for being able to get this through the Treasury so charities in need can get some help,” Cleeveley said. “To be really successful, the support provided needs to have a legacy that outlasts the funding. Those providing the support should be helped to learn from this fund so they are able to support further organisations in future.”

Wilson said the structure of the fund reflects his philosophy that it is “not just about the money”. The Minister reiterated the Conservative Party’s campaign pledge to provide support for paid volunteering leave in the public service and at large workplaces.

“We put at the heart of our manifesto a commitment to three days of paid volunteering leave for employees in large organisations. Many companies do this already but we’ll make this a reality for more people – a new entitlement for millions which will unleash a new wave of skills, capability and passion to help others.”

Wilson also committed to create new social action opportunities for young people, and continue support for social investment.

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