Ensure your information comes from reliable sources, such as national government, Public Health England and the NHS.
NCVO – the voluntary sector umbrella organisation – has developed very useful guidance for voluntary and community organisations about responding to COVID-19 outbreak, and is updating it regularly: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-support/information/coronavirus.
Within your Big Local area
LTOs and Big Local partnerships may want to increase the frequency of their contact with each other and may find it helpful to work through this document together.
Updates from Local Trust
At Local Trust we will be using our website, Facebook and Workplace to share important updates and news.
Our Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/LocalTrustBigLocal/
Many Big Local partnerships and workers are also very active on our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BigLocalWork/
Workplace: All Big Local partnership members, workers and LTOs are invited to register and login to Workplace. It is a good place to exchange information and chat to other Big Local areas, reps and Local Trust staff easily. More information about Workplace is provided in A Guide to Staying Connected.
Reps will continue to provide support to Big Local areas and, as usual, should be the first point of contact for partnerships. However, reps will need to provide support in different ways – with more remote engagement by phone, email or videocall, where visiting an area is not possible.
Local Trust will continue to respond to requests and queries, process grant payments and coordinate delivery of the programme. Following government advice, we are all now home working but this should not impact the delivery of the programme.
Ways to contact Local Trust
Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org remains the most reliable way to contact us
Think about replacing face to face meetings with phone conference calls or online meetings. At the end of this document is A Guide to Staying Connected, including how to hold meetings online or by phone (landline and mobile).
If you run activities and services that bring people together – such as youth groups, drop-ins, sports, job clubs – please follow the government advice to postpone these or hold them remotely where possible.
Events in your Big Local area
Discuss with your LTO and other people or organisations whether planned events can be postponed or held virtually. We will be sharing further guidance on how areas can do this.
In some Big Local areas financial planning may become a key issue for partnerships to discuss with the rep and LTO.
In some areas, plan reviews, the creation of new plans and additional income streams may be disrupted. We have prepared the following information on additional support available to Big Local partnerships at this time.
All Big Local areas who have plans ending in the next six months can now request to extend their plans for up to an additional six months, via the usual process.
The extension process involves an email to the funding team with the new end date requested, the reason for the extension, confirmation that there are sufficient funds left in the plan to cover this period, and evidence that the partnership have agreed to it (see our guide here).
It is fine if you have already extended your Plan for up to 12 months, since we are considering longer extensions during this period.
A partnership could consider this if;
Variations to activities may also be requested via our usual variation process (see our guide here)
Partnerships may wish to apply for up to a six-month bridging grant. This will allow the continuation of activities agreed under your current plan if you don’t have enough funding left in your current offer.
Bridging grants are considered part of your current plan, and so don’t require the development process (such as community consultation and a plan review) needed for a new plan. But you do need to submit a proposal for the grant on BLC in the usual way, with an agreed budget and short Word document that briefly explains how the funds will be used. Please attach your main plan and the LTO’s latest signed annual accounts.
We will review these and follow up if we have any questions, in order to issue an offer letter and payment schedule. We would not expect the amount proposed for the grant to be more than the average six-month payment agreed in your current plan.
If you are currently receiving quarterly payments and would like a bridging grant of 4 months or more, please separate figures into two payments in the finance table.
Please note that both extensions and bridging grants aim to ensure a continuation of the partnership’s activities and pre-existing contractual commitments. Any significant new projects or large amounts will need to be proposed via a new plan and assessed. If you would like your bridging grant to include small or moderate variations to your planned activities, please explain what they are, the reason for them and the amount budgeted, in your proposal (which is the same as requesting a variation).
Finally, if the partnership has been able to develop their Plan fully and would like to submit it, we will arrange for an assessment. This is likely to be a desk-based remote assessment and we will check in with you, your rep and the assessor to confirm that this is possible.
If we carry out a desk-based assessment, the assessor will contact partnership members, the LTO and rep via phone and email, and will assess the Plan according to the usual criteria.
During this period we will continually monitor our approach and let you know about any updates via email. If you are unsure about anything related to the process please speak to your Local Trust rep in the first instance and Local Trust staff will also be on hand to provide advice if needed.
We realise that COVID-19 may also mean changes to your activities and changes to the way you need to use your Big Local funds. If this happens, you can use the usual processes for requesting budget variations or additional funding.
Partnerships and LTOs can decide and agree on how to best respond to the situation using the funds and then contact the funding team if this will require moving significant amounts between budget headings or asking for funds beyond your current plan. Read more in our Funding Processes guide.
The use of Big Local funds is still governed by the terms and conditions of grant that LTOs sign with us, so funding should still work towards Big Local outcomes and can’t be used for prohibited purposes, for example. LTOs will be able to advise partnerships on this.
Because workers are employed or contracted by the LTO, the LTO’s policies and procedures apply to questions around this, so you can work together locally to agree any changes that need to be made.
Our guides to workers may also be helpful here, and your rep will also be a source of support and information.
Please contact Jo Baker or Zoe Sykiotis for further enquiries:
We have prepared these FAQs to help answer any questions you may have These about the Big Local programme during COVID-19.
These questions cover:
The additional £50k allocation; Reports and plan reviews; Work with delivery partners; Disrupted plans and activities and staying connected online; Funding for C-19 including to individuals, for PPE, and buying digital equipment; The legacy statement deadline; and employment for workers during the pandemic.
If your question is not covered here, please contact your Rep for advice.
Is the additional £50k for specific COVID-19 pandemic related work?
No, the additional funding is not specifically related to the pandemic or work areas are doing in response. We do however recognise that many areas are seeking to respond in support of their communities in different ways that may require redeployment of some plan funds, and may be uncertain how this will impact on their funds and other plans. We have brought forward the announcement to provide Big Locals with absolute certainty over the total amount of money that is available to them over the rest of the programme.
How is it accessed?
The money is added to the overall funding ‘pot’ for each area and is drawn down following the usual plan and assessment process.
If you’d like to use or draw down funding now, including for your community response to the pandemic, you can do so under your current plan and apply for a variation in the usual way (if partnerships intend to spend differently from the plan) using our guidance.
Will the 5% be paid against the £50k?
Yes, 5% of actual expenditure will be paid to your LTO as a contribution to support grant administration and partnership running costs. As per our normal process, refunds to us of unspent funding will need to include the proportionate 5%.
Will there be any further distribution of funding in future years?
No, this is the final allocation of funding to Big Local areas and therefore the total each area has received is £1m plus the 2 additional allocations (£105k in 2017 and £50k in 2020). If you would like a full breakdown of the total monies that were available to your area please contact Local Trust.
What if a Big Local wants to change their plans or activities in response to the pandemic?
We want to be able to support areas in a flexible and responsive way. We have set out a series of options for areas over this period of disruption in the two sections above on funding.
How does the current situation affect funding requirements, such as spend reports, conditions of grant and the release of normal grant payments to LTOs?
Funding requirements need to be met and you need to submit spend reports in order to release payment, as per our normal process. If your LTO is not able to respond by the deadline please get in touch so we can discuss options you.
Do we still need to submit a plan review?
Yes, you do need to submit a plan review before or with your new plan. However, if you decide to extend your current plan you won’t need to send your plan review in until you can submit your new plan.
How about payments to local suppliers or delivery partners?
Your LTO is responsible for releasing payments to local suppliers or delivery partners, but may be experiencing disruption, as all organisations are, during the pandemic. If you become aware of any issues please get in touch with your LTO and rep.
What if we can’t carry out our planned events and activities?
There will be disruption during the pandemic and there may be alternative ways to keep going with some activities or events. Here is our guide to staying connected.
Where activities and events need to be cancelled or postponed, your LTO is responsible for managing the next steps with suppliers and delivery partners, under the agreements they have in place locally, and the LTOs own policies and processes. There will be contractual and employment obligations your LTO will need to abide by, and Big Local funding can be used to meet these.
You can agree alternative activities with your LTO and we can agree a variation to your funding to support. Keep in mind the normal roles and responsibilities of the partnership and LTO. Partnerships can decide to change the plan, however, decisions on financial management, employment and contractual matters rest with the LTO.
If you’re in any doubt please speak to your LTO and rep, or if needed a member of Local Trust’s funding team.
Can Big Local funds be used to provide direct financial support to individuals and families in your local area?
Yes, Big Local funds can be used for this purpose, providing that it can be understood as benefitting your community as a whole, meets the Big Local outcomes and falls within your plan priorities. You’d need to consider how to award and distribute the funding in a fair and open way and how sustainable any awards would be, given the level of need that you’re responding to. There might be other ways to more easily provide the support according to these principles, such as by working with local services or other organisations.
If funding a project like this falls outside of your current plan, please see our guidance on how to request a variation.
Can Big Local funding be used to support community responses to Covid-19?
Yes, Big Local funding can be used to coordinate the community’s response, reach out to people and work with local services. When deciding how to respond, here are a few things to take into account:
You might also be asked to contribute to fundraising appeals during this time – do consider all the factors above when making the decision to contribute. What are the reasons to support this activity or appeal and not others?
Is there anything Big Local funding should not be used for?
While there is flexibility in the process, Big Local funding can still only be used for the purposes of Big Local and to achieve the Big Local outcomes. The terms and conditions of grant still apply. The terms set out a number of “prohibited purposes” which Big Local funding cannot be used for, and this includes “projects or activities which the state has an obligation to provide”, such as health and social care services and policing. The rapid pace of change during the pandemic will mean local services are under pressure and cannot respond to questions quickly. Generally Big Local funding cannot be used to fund activities that do not benefit your Big Local area. Big Local funding also cannot be used towards anything that the government is obliged to fund, this includes for example medical treatment, or the purchase of medical equipment because this might be done through NHS supply chains. If you are in doubt about what Big Local funding can be used for please speak to your rep or Local Trust’s funding team.
Can Big Local funds be used to buy equipment for partnership members, top up phones or buy data?
If you have questions about funding from sources other than Big Local, get in touch with your LTO and rep, who may be able to contact the funder directly.
How does the current situation affect the requirement to submit a legacy statement by September 2020?
We’re encouraging areas to think of new and/or different ways of keeping in touch and maintaining momentum where possible, here’s our guide to staying connected. For those areas able to continue to develop their plans and submit them to us as normal we will expect them to include a costed vision and legacy statement. For those areas planning to submit a legacy statement before September 2020 in line with our request, we have extended the deadline for this to 31 March 2021. If you already have this statement prepared, please do send it to us.
In light of current government advice on travel and social distancing what is the position with Big Local workers and who is responsible for what?
As per the terms and conditions of grant, the employer, usually the LTO, is fully responsible for workers terms and conditions, including any alternative arrangements and support that may need to be provided during this period.
Big Local funding can be used for costs of supporting workers who normally work on Big Local, such as for sick leave. Remember that this is the responsibility of the employer or contracting organisation to determine.
You can find further information here:
Can Big Local Workers be redeployed to work on non-Big Local activities?
No. Workers paid for by Big Local partnerships are employed to deliver against the priorities set out in the Big Local plan, which has been assessed and endorsed by Local Trust. The plan sets out how partnerships will achieve the programme outcomes that Big Local was set up to achieve. All activity must contribute to the outcomes the programme has been set up to achieve.
Can workers change priorities to support the Big Local response to new priorities around COVID-19 or other urgent issues?
Yes. Big Local partnerships should already be feeding in to the shape and content of a workers workplan, working closely with the LTO, as a general approach. If a partnership wants to use their plan and funding to support communities during this period in different ways to which they had previously anticipated, workers can deliver this. It is important to consult any worker if changes are proposed, and the LTO as employer should do this working closely with the partnership. A partnership will also need to ask Local Trust for the flexibility to change their plans via a variation.
Can we change our plans and is there flexibility in the process?
Yes, please see the update on funding flexibility here.