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Building Better Opportunities

Big Lottery Fund is matching funds from the European Social Fund for projects across England that tackle poverty and promote social inclusion
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Funding size:
£330,000 - £10.6m
Application deadline:
See programme details

What's it all about?

Big Lottery Fund is matching funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 to invest in local projects tackling the root causes of poverty, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.

The funding will be delivered in 38 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas (see map below) according to local priorities, which have been set by the LEPs themselves. It will support a variety of projects, ranging from those improving employability for the most disadvantaged, helping those with multiple and complex needs, to improving financial literacy.

The amount of funding varies across different areas as LEPs and the LEP area European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) Sub Committees have decided how much of their ESF allocation to devote to this strand of work.

In your area


Building Better Opportunities projects will support more than 100,000 people overall. The programme will help these individuals to overcome multiple complex needs, build confidence and resilience, and become less isolated from their local communities.

Visit the case studies page to read about some of the people who have been helped so far.

Reports on progress are collected quarterly. As of the end of March 2017 (quarter 1):

4515 participants in total had registered to Building better Opportunities projects
1192 of these were participants over 50 years of age
2075 participants had disabilities
1183 participants were of an Ethnic Minority

Of these:

139 had secured employment
32 had begun job search
40 were in education or training

*Around 300 participants were removed due to poor quality data

Support for grant holders

For Building Better Opportunities, the Big Lottery Fund is matching funding from the European Social Fund. It is important that grant holders follow the regulations laid down by the ESF. Our Guide to delivering European funding will support you in applying these requirements.

Our Building Better Opportunities resources page contains documents from throughout the programme. Here you can find general information about the programme, logos, templates, FAQs and lessons learned in delivering the programme.

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded RSM, in partnership with Ecorys UK, a contract to support potential applicants, applicants and grant holders to understand, plan for and deliver the additional requirements that come with managing European funding. A BBO ESF support website provides support materials appropriate to each stage of the programme including guidance notes, templates and example documents, good practice and more.

The Big Lottery Fund has appointed Ecorys to deliver the national evaluation and learning services for this programme. The evaluation concentrates on examining how the programme is implemented, primarily concerning access and impact. Valuable learning along the way will be shared here

If you have a query about Building Better Opportunities, please contact esf@biglotteryfund.org.uk or call 0345 4 10 20 30.