It’s now been a full 12 weeks since the Chancellor announced £370m in funding for small charities, to be delivered by the National Lottery Community Fund and other distributors in the home nations. And it’s been over a month since the Coronavirus Community Support Fund opened for applications in England, with £200m of that amount.
Even though this is supposed to be emergency funding to mitigate the impact of COVID19, we still have no idea when or how the remaining funds will be released, despite the NLCF reporting record numbers of applications for the first tranche. Why?
To our knowledge no data has been released about how many applications have been received, how many have been successful, whether the initial £200m has already run out, or whether any funding has been awarded at all. This needs to be in the public domain – it isn’t fair to current or prospective applicants not to provide it as soon as possible.
The fund is supposed to support small charities in crisis, but it’s increasingly obvious that the Government has hamstrung the NLCF’s expertise and process with red tape and Ministerial diktats. Small charities – and most importantly the people who depend on them – need transparency and action, not more dithering and delay.
There are strong indications from multiple different sources that Ministers are unnecessarily slowing down the distribution of this emergency funding for small charities, tying the hands of the distributors by interfering in the process and with unnecessary red tape, and there is a general lack of transparency about the whole process.
To try to shed some light on the process we’ve submitted the following Freedom of Information request to the National Lottery Comunity Fund about the Coronavirus Community Support Fund:
Freedom of Information Request
Topic: Coronavirus Community Support Fund
Made of: The National Lottery Community Fund
Made by: Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research, Directory of Social Change
Date: 24 June 2020
This note is to formally request that the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) provide and where appropriate publish the following information under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act:
- The contract or other agreements between the NLCF and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for delivery of the Coronavirus Community Support Fund; any other relevant contracts with other government departments.
- Any agreed plans or processes, and any correspondence (including letters and emails) between the NLCF and the office of the Secretary of State for DCMS, and other DCMS Ministers and officials; also between the NLCF and the Cabinet Office; Number 10 Downing Street; and HM Treasury regarding the delivery of the Coronavirus Community Support Fund.
- The following data about the Coronavirus Community Support Fund:
- How many first-stage applications have been received;
- How many first-stage applications were eligible and/or progressed to the second stage;
- How many applications have been successful but are awaiting a grant award;
- How many grants have been distributed to date, their total value and average value;
- How many applicants from BAME organisations (or those which provide services primarily for BAME communities) are represented at each stage a-d above;
- How the total value of the grants awarded to date compares to the total fund value
- At what date the £200m fund value is projected to be expended.
- A description, in full detail, of the decision-making process for distribution of funds up to and including the payment of funds to grantees, including every committee and agency involved in each stage. To include: details of how many applications have progressed to each stage, and the reasons for non-awards or delay at each stage.
- Any agreed plans or processes, and any correspondence that exists between the NLCF and the office of the Secretary of State for DCMS and other DCMS Ministers and officials regarding the delivery of the second tranche (£110m) of the Coronavirus Community Support Fund; also any that exist between the NLCF and the Cabinet Office; Number 10 Downing Street; and HM Treasury, including information that informs the Secretary of State’s decision to reserve this money for later distribution, and any criteria or plans around timing.