GCA research informs Community Assets funding

Stakeholders in high visibility jackets looking at a drawing of a planned developmentIn this blog Eric Samuel, our Senior Policy & Learning Manager, tells us about the knowledge and learning behind the formation of Community Assets funding. 

This month Big Lottery Fund Scotland will make its final awards through Growing Community Assets (GCA) and research has now been undertaken to inform its successor, Community Assets.

Since 2006, funding from GCA has been helping communities throughout the length and breadth of the country to become stronger and more resilient by acquiring and developing not just physical assets like land and buildings, but all kinds of assets that matter to them, such as renewable energy. To date, a truly diverse range of 170 projects totalling £86 million have been funded under GCA, in 26 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

The good news for projects who will be funded by GCA this month is that recently published results of research undertaken by the Big Lottery Fund last year suggests that, based on the experience of projects already operating, they have much to be positive and optimistic about.

A majority of projects said the Big Lottery Fund had been professional, helpful and supportive. They particularly welcomed the support received from our contractors – Social Investment Business and Community Energy Scotland – as well as advice received on a variety of issues from a range of other bodies.

As is to be expected, some of the 28 projects that took part in the research had turned out as expected, while others had not. The main differences included building, operational and staff challenges.

The research also found that a variety of types of projects would have done things differently, including estimating the time and resources required to get projects up and running more accurately, paying more attention to getting governance, recruitment and procurement right, and making provision for more and ongoing consultancy support. However, most projects claimed to be performing very well.

In line with the Fund’s practice of making the best use of knowledge and evidence, we have taken account of the successes and challenges reported by the research projects in the design and delivery of GCA’s successor, Community Assets. This includes introducing an application process devoid of application forms, the re-engagement of Social Investment Business to provide support with governance, and strategic, financial and operational planning, and the establishment of a Scotland-wide network of Capital Mentors to help guide applicants through the complexities of the technical process.

You can read the full report on Growing Community Assets here and the summary report here.

For more information on or to apply to GCA’s successor, Community Assets, visit this link.

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