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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.

Making an application

Choosing to apply to this programme is a big commitment. Projects will need careful planning to deliver the specific monitoring and delivery requirements that European funding brings. Failure to comply with these requirements could have serious financial repercussions.

To help you decide whether Building Better Opportunities is right for you we have published three documents; a programme guide, a guide to assessment and award and a summary of our partnership requirements. All three can be found in the Related Documents section on this page. We strongly advise you reading these three documents before downloading and completing an application form.

Download a stage one application form

Please review our data protection policy which sets out how we may use your information.

If you require a large print version of the stage one application form please email esf@biglotteryfund.org.uk

Related documents and support

Related documents

All Building Better Opportunities programme documents are available for you to download.


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 relevant support materials appropriate to each stage of the programme including guidance notes, templates and example documents, good practice and more. A helpline is also available for potential applicants to discuss any specific queries.

BBO ESF support can help with any query relating to ESF and the associated requirements. To find out more visit www.bboesfsupport.com

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