OVER the last three years as much as half (51%, totalling £568 million) of National Lottery funding for communities has gone to the most deprived neighbourhoods in England – according to new figures released by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
Between 2016-17 and 2020-21, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed £3.4 billion to communities across the UK. £1 billion was awarded in 2020 alone, as charities and grassroots groups rushed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns.
The figures are from the distributor’s newly released report, Putting Communities First, which sets out the impact National Lottery funding has had on communities across the UK over the last five years.
it shows that between 2016-17 and 2020-21, National Lottery-funded community projects have supported well over 5 million people across the country each year – with 97% of grant holders reporting improvements in their participants’ mental health and self-esteem as well as increased social contact.
In addition, every month almost 2 million people enjoy the benefits of National Lottery Community Fund-supported venues such as parks and village halls.
Services provided by these charities also contributed to a wealth of community-wide benefits: over half (60%) reported providing people with increased opportunities to engage in their local communities, offering more events and activities. Some 42% of projects said people had more local pride and a better sense of belonging as a result of their funded work.
Throughout the UK, National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes. Putting Communities First reveals that this money is helping to tackle some of the most urgent issues – including tackling the climate emergency; and supporting young people, employment, and mental health.
Since 2016, the distributor has awarded almost £400 million through more than 6,000 grants, enabling environmental action on issues such as food, waste, and consumption, as well as energy, transport, and the natural environment. In 2019, it launched its most ambitious environment-focused programme yet: a £100 million commitment delivered over 10 years, the Climate Action Fund supports local communities to take meaningful action against climate change.
One of the largest non-statutory funders of opportunity for young people over the last five years, The National Lottery Community Fund has supported more than £1.2bn of local youth projects. Each year this support has had a hugely positive impact: 80% of projects working with young people pointed to improvements in confidence and self-esteem, while almost two thirds (65%) reported young people building stronger friendships and relationships.
Over the last 12 years, National Lottery-supported initiatives have helped more than 181,000 people facing barriers to employment. The largest of these, Building Better Opportunities, has supported some 127,000 people since 2016 – almost half of whom identify as disabled (49%) and nearly a quarter are from Black and Minoritised Communities (23%). †
Between 2016-17 around £1.3 billion in National Lottery funding was awarded to almost 17,000 programmes and projects focussed on helping people experiencing some of life’s most complex and difficult challenges, such as homelessness and substance misuse. The overwhelming majority (91%) of organisations working with people facing these multiple disadvantages reported seeing better mental health for participants; two thirds (68%) said they saw improvements in physical health, too.
David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said:
“National Lottery funding changes lives. This report – the first to look comprehensively at the impact of our funding – demonstrates clearly the difference it is making in communities across the UK.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, over the last five years we’ve backed more than 72,000 community projects through over £3.4 billion of grants – often going to the people and places where it is most needed.
“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. 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.”
Putting Communities First: Our impact report – 2016-17 to 2020-21 is available here. The report follows the recent appointment of David Knott as Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund and the publication of the Fund’s Commitment to Communities, setting out what charities and grassroots groups can expect from the largest funder of community activity in the UK.