Nigel Huddleston – 2022 Statement on Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Funding During Pandemic

The statement made by Nigel Huddleston, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 28 April 2022.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has today published a report evaluating the impact and delivery of the £750 million of Government funding to support voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations during the covid-19 pandemic. The report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report can also be found online.

This emergency covid-19 funding package aimed to ensure that the VCSE sector could continue its vital work supporting the country during the coronavirus outbreak, including meeting increased and changing demand due to the pandemic. The package was one of several delivered by DCMS to support sectors through the pandemic, including the culture recovery fund and sport survival package, which have been assessed separately with evaluations to be published in due course.

This funding was disseminated to organisations via various funding streams such as the big night in, the community match challenge and the winter loneliness fund. These in turn awarded grants to over 14,000 organisations delivering myriad activities, including encouraging social connection and tackling loneliness (59%); providing information and advice (44%) and supporting people’s mental health (38%).

The grants reached an estimated 21.5 million service users. Common positive outcomes achieved for people and communities included improved mental health and wellbeing (70%); more opportunity for social contact (62%); and reduced experiences of loneliness (58%).

The evaluation found “strong evidence” that the funding package had achieved its aims. Nearly all grant holders (97%) that used funding to cover core costs reported that the funding had helped their financial health during the pandemic, with nearly half (46%) saying it had helped a great deal. Some 13% of grant holders said that, without the funding, they would have had to close or stop services (with the funding, this only happened in 1% of cases).

The funding allowed around 40% of grant holders to maintain or recruit new volunteers, with some 12,000 new volunteers being mobilised, just from those organisations who completed the survey. This had positive outcomes for volunteers themselves, with 93% reporting more than one positive outcome from volunteering, and 63% saying that they would be certain to continue.

The majority of grant holders (76%) also reported that they found the process of applying for grants to be “straightforward and proportionate”. They found the flexibility to use the money for core costs beneficial given the uncertainty of the pandemic.

The report also outlines eight recommendations based on the lessons learnt from this funding package which the Government will carefully consider.