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The Big Local plan

July 2015

The Big Local plan describes how your area will work towards becoming an even better place to live. It captures and builds on your vision, priorities and actions. It describes how your partnership will use a range of resources in the best possible way.

This doesn’t just mean telling us and the community how to use the money – Big Local is much more than the money. So the plan describes how you’re going to use people, talents, ambitions, skills, energy, support, training and networks alongside the money to achieve your vision. 

Your plan should build on what is already good about your area. It should explain how you will provide community-wide benefits, respond to local needs and priorities, and achieve Big Local’s four outcomes.

Why do we need a Big Local plan?

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A Big Local plan sets out what you want to achieve, and why, and how you are going to achieve it. It serves as a guide for ensuring your area makes Big Local happen, and as a tool for sharing the vision and inspiring others to get involved. So it should be something that people in your area can understand, relate to and be proud of. 

You also need a Big Local plan to say how you intend to use your £1 million, and to be able to draw on the funds. Your plan can be produced in any format, so it is not the same as the proposal forms that you may have submitted previously. But the idea is the same in that it tells us what you want to do and what you want to achieve.

Creating a Big Local plan

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What is in a Big Local plan?

There’s no required format for a Big Local plan - the decision is yours. Plans should be simple and straightforward, make sense, and be clear to anyone who reads them. 

Think about creative ways to package your plan, including a good design to grab attention and capture the essence of what you are trying to achieve. You can look at other area’s plans by going to the map on our website and selecting areas which have a plan endorsed.

In Big Local Community you need to tell us:

  • your vision
  • your priorities
  • budget with proposed payment schedule
  • date that the plan review will be submitted to Local Trust
  • start and end date of the plan and therefore the grant agreement (month, year).

Within the plan itself or in the supporting information we’ll want to know:

  • community involvement and buy-in
  • community need and opportunities
  • how your plan relates to Big Local outcomes
  • contribution their plan makes to lasting/sustainable change in their area

Your Big Local plan can be for as few or as many years as you like - some cover one or two years, others five. The important thing is to keep your options open and be flexible, so that you can use and respond to emerging local needs as well as technological developments (think how fast social media have transformed our world). So it's better not to plan too far ahead, but to produce regular follow-on plans instead.

How do we create a plan?

Creating your Big Local plan should build on all the work your area has done so far and the important lessons learned along the way. You can also use your area’s Big Local profile as a starting point to help highlight what your area needs, what is already great, and what resources you can draw on.
It’s up to you who writes the plan.

What funding is available to create our first plan?

Not every area will need the same resources to develop a Big Local plan - some rely on volunteers, but this may not be possible everywhere. 

We make £2,000 available to each area for support in creating its plan. This is in addition to your area’s £1m. This funding could be used to pay someone to write, film or record the plan, or for skills workshops or other training to help residents write it. 

You can use this funding whenever you’re ready for it, and at the same time as you use other Big Local funding, such as Getting Started or Pathway funding. When you are ready, just complete a proposal here: If you don’t use this funding when you create your Big Local plan, you won’t lose it - it will just be added to your area's £1m.

What funding is available to create a plan after that?

Over the lifetime of Big Local you will want to update, refresh and create new, follow-on plans as current ones become outdated. There is no additional Big Local money available to pay for this, so if you want to pay someone to create a follow-on or refreshed plan you will need to budget for this within your £1m.

Assessment of Big Local plans

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Your first Big Local plan

When your plan is ready, please submit it to us through Big Local Community (our funding management system).

Assessments are carried out by a member of our assessment team, then endorsed by a programme manager and, finally, authorised by the chief executive. 

As part of this process, the assessor will read your Big Local plan, speak to the rep and then arrange to visit your Big Local area to meet your partnership and discuss the plan. It usually takes a month from receipt to endorsement, but that depends on when you can meet with one of our assessors. 

Please note that we can only endorse your Big Local plan after we have endorsed your partnership for the area. For more information on the Big Local partnership, please read our guidance on Big Local partnerships.

Here are some of the questions we might ask when you submit your first Big Local plan, and why we might ask them.

Follow-on or new plans

Like your first Big Local plan, please submit any new, follow-on or revised plans through Big Local Community. Again, this assessment will be carried out by a member of our assessment team and endorsed by a programme manager before final authorisation by the chief executive. The assessor will read your Big Local plan and your review, speak to the rep, and then arrange to visit your Big Local area to meet your partnership to discuss the review and the new plan.
Here are the kinds of questions we might ask when you submit your next Big Local plan and why we ask them.

When we assess your plan, we also carry out due-diligence checks on your locally trusted organisation(s), and might also have a conversation with them. For more information, read our guidance on locally trusted organisations.

What happens after a plan is endorsed?

Once your plan is endorsed, we write to the chair of the Big Local partnership. The letter confirms endorsement of your plan and the amount of money we will award to your locally trusted organisation(s) on your area’s behalf. The endorsement usually covers the timeline of the plan, so if your plan runs from 2015-18, that’s the plan we endorse. We put together a payment schedule that sets out when your locally trusted organisation(s) will draw down funding to deliver the plan.

We also send a letter to your locally trusted organisation to confirm that the plan has been endorsed, the value of funding, and the period that the agreement covers. Included in the letter will be the grant terms and conditions, along with a payment schedule. We pay the first six months of this funding once we get the signed terms and conditions back from the locally trusted organisation, and then pay further instalments every six months once the locally trusted organisation completes the monitoring forms that trigger the payments.

Towards the end of each payment period we will contact your locally trusted organisation and ask them to complete a spend report. This is so that they can update us on what’s been used so far and what they expect to use in the next payment period. This will enable us to work with your locally trusted organisation to ensure they have the right amount of funding to deliver the plan. We know not every plan runs exactly to time or as set out in the payment schedule, and with your locally trusted organisation we are able to amend this timetable so that it works for you locally.

Changing your Big Local plan

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Can you change your plan once it is endorsed?

Yes, you can. We expect that as the plan starts to be delivered you will learn things from your experience and want to incorporate it in your plan. If you choose to change the activities or the total amount you are drawing out, your Big Local partnership and locally trusted organisation should get in touch as soon as possible to agree these changes with us.

Moving between one plan and another

If your first Big Local plan covers the period 2015 to 2018, your follow-on plan might run from 2018 to 2021. To ensure that there are no gaps in funding, please send us the plan at least four weeks before you expect it to start. 

Throughout the period of the grant we will be asking your locally trusted organisation(s) to report on spending. If, at the end of the period, there are funds remaining, you have a few options:

  1. Return any underspend to Local Trust so we can close the grant agreement. This money will be added to what remains of your £1m.
  2. Extend the grant agreement, so that the locally trusted organisation(s) has longer to use the money. We would do this in agreement with the partnership.
  3. Reduce the value of the payment schedule to reflect any underspend, and ask the locally trusted organisation to report on the amount carried forward under the new plan.

Reviewing your Big Local plan

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We want you to review your Big Local plan in a way and at a time that suits you locally. When you submit your Big Local plan to us, we will ask you to tell us when you are planning to review it. You will find more information about this in our guidance on Reviewing your Big Local plan.

Helpful extras

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Once your partnership is endorsed, we will make contact with the chair of the Big Local partnership to discuss the process for either continuing with your current rep, or choosing another from our pool of reps. You can read more about reps here.

Locally trusted organisations

A locally trusted organisation is the organisation chosen by your Big Local partnership to administer and account for the distribution of your £1m, and/or deliver activities or services on behalf of the Big Local partnership. Areas can have more than one locally trusted organisation, and/or can change locally trusted organisations during their plan. For more information read our guidance on locally trusted organisations.

Download guidance

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