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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.

Funding available

There are currently no funding opportunities available.  To hear the latest news and funding opportunities please register your interestGoes to different website

Click on the pins or links below to find out more about the funding in each area.

Funding opportunities and next steps

To apply to Building Better Opportunities, you will need to respond to one of the project outlines published on our LEP pages. The scope of each project outline will be based on the LEP ESIF strategy, and developed with the LEP area ESIF sub-committee. There are currently no funding opportunities available.

What is a project outline?

Project outlines describe each specific funding opportunity that is available and set out what we want each project to achieve and the areas or groups of people that it needs to target. We’ll only fund one project per project outline.

Although each project outline is different, there are five key principles that unite them. Projects must:

  • Help the most disadvantaged
  • Tackle social exclusion
  • Be focused on the capabilities of each individual
  • Lead to better coordinated services
  • Create new opportunities for work.

Each project outline will have an application deadline and project start and completion dates. See individual project outlines for details.

Who can apply?

Any organisation is able to apply, however most of the project outlines available will be better suited to partnership working.

We will still accept applications from organisations working on their own, but it is unlikely that a single organisation will have the breadth and depth of experience needed to tackle the complex multiple issues that the people who’ll benefit face on a daily basis.

What is the application process?

The application process consists of two stages. Stage one is fully open and competitive and from this we’ll select a shortlist of applicants to take through to stage two. An invitation to stage two does not, however, guarantee that the project will be funded. For further detail on the application process see our Programme guide in the Related Documents section.

What next?

Visit the LEP pages to find out more about the funding opportunities available. If you are interested in applying visit the Making an application section below.


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.

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.