Investing in local community priorities: Big Local

“Big Local” is a  Big Lottery programme to give 150 communities across England £1m each over the next ten years. The broad purpose of this funding is to improve quality of life in these communities in a permanent/sustainable way. The specific purpose is to enable these communities to develop the skills, know-how, partnerships and assets necessary to take responsibility for their own neighbourhood. As the programme describes it – “Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them”.

A key component of the programme, however, is that the Lottery (represented by the Local Trust) wants these communities to see this money as an investment rather than a grant. In other words they want communities to learn how spend this money such that it produces a long term return. This could be through a number of approaches such as acquiring local assets, setting up a credit union or supporting business start-ups/social enterprises.  Examples of how this approach has been implemented include:

  • Cycooldelic, Brixton – a bike recycling community group with a high street shop which rebuilds and repairs old bikes and sells them to the local community to provide cheap transport and encourage healthier lifestyles.
  • ‘Mums the word’, Shadsworth with Whitebirk – Blackburn with Darwen – reconditioning, recycling school uniforms so that they can be made available to local families in an area of high deprivation.
  • East Coseley Big Local Plan, which is looking at working with a credit union, supporting new community businesses, and employing underused buildings and outdoor spaces to support local enterprise.

Key features of this approach

  • Place distinctiveness – about recognising the importance of local context and seeking to build on this in the long term.
  • Local multipliers – maximising the benefits – the way in which this money is spent could potentially generate significant multipliers for the local community through employment, procurement and through the revitalisation of a local asset.
  • Long term approach – the investment is about long term returns which will be sustainable, which contrasts sharply with the emphasis of traditional inward investment which tends to prioritise short term gains.

To learn more

The Local Trust website – for an impressive set of guides, tools and podcasts.

Info on East Coseley Big Local Plan