Getting levelling up funding to where it’s needed

Soo Nevison

By Soo Nevison, CEO, Community Action Bradford and District

If we’re going to ‘level up’ the country we need to make sure that the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector is funded to get on and do its jobs, working with some of the most disadvantaged people. There are three ways government could design its levelling up funds to make this happen:

Supporting VCSE infrastructure

Many organisations in the VCSE sector working with disadvantaged people are small and simply don’t have the capacity to apply for funds. They also do not have the capacity to coordinate their services, for example to signpost people to other charities that could support them on different issues. VCSE infrastructure bodies can provide this capacity, but will need to be funded to do this. The Community Renewal Fund allows the VCSE sector to apply for infrastructure funding, so it will be important that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund does the same.

A different route to distributing funding

At the moment bids for the levelling up funds, including the Community Renewal Fund, need to go through local authorities. But this might not be the most efficient way of getting money to the places and organisations that need it most.

An alternative is that some of the funding could go through organisations that are already used to funding charities, like Community Foundations or the National Lottery Community Fund. These organisations have just distributed COVID emergency funding, and although the speed and targeting of funds varied, this may be a blueprint for how some of the levelling up funds could be better targeted at VCSE organisations.

Weighting the criteria in favour of communities

When funding bids are assessed, is there any way that a positive weighting can be given to VCSE-led bids; a kind-of nod to Social Value?  As the VCSE sector delivers social value in just about everything they do, being asked to show their ‘extra’ Social Value is often difficult and if it was added ‘automatically’ at assessment this may see more money getting closer to communities.

If we’re going to ‘level up’ the country we need to make sure that the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector is funded to get on and do its jobs, working with some of the most disadvantaged people. Click To Tweet
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