Occasionally questions arise about how the Big Local resident-led programmed is managed and overseen. Residents on the local partnership put themselves forward to support the community, giving of their time and expertise. They do an amazing job in identifying and responding to its priorities. They can face many challenges, along with the rewards of helping make their area an even better place to live. They open themselves up to comment and, just occasionally, this can become quite personal and hurtful. This blog sets out how Big Local is run and the checks in place to make sure there is maximum benefit to residents, minimum bureaucracy and sound scrutiny to make sure things are run right.

Back in 2010, the National Lottery set up Big Local as a community-led programme to reach 150 areas in England, with at least £1m to spend over about 10 years. By 2012, all areas had got underway. Each area must follow a required pathway, including setting up a local residents’ group, choosing a local trusted organisation to be the legally accountable body, connecting with the wider community, researching local needs and building, implementing and reviewing a plan that responds to local priorities.

Local Trust manages the whole programme and holds and invests unspent money until needed. Return on that investment is distributed locally to add to the £1m for each area. Each area must have a Big Local rep to oversee progress and support the local area, also paid for centrally and managed through Local Trust.

Each Big Local area is run by a local partnership which must include at least five residents, making up at least 51% of the partnership with at least 51% of voting rights. The make-up and functioning of the partnership is reviewed annually to check that it is in good health and remains relevant and responsive to local needs, with clear policies and procedures to guide its work and respond to concerns and complaints.

The Local Trusted Organisation is chosen by the local partnership as one that can be accountable, support the partnership and keep to the vision and values of Big Local. It is vetted by Local Trust and must keep all relevant records, submit its accounts and be open to spot checks from Local Trust. It signs a legal contract with Local Trust to ensure it keeps to the ethical and financial requirements of Big Local. In this area, it is paid no more than 5% of local spend and this payment is paid centrally, not from local funds.

The partnership is responsible for the development of the local plan and to make sure it is delivered with partners working toward the shared vision and objectives. This plan is checked thoroughly by Local Trust before approval. Subsequent spend is reviewed every six months by the partnership and Local Trust. There are Service Level Agreements between the Local Trusted Organisation and partner organisations to monitor progress. Reports from delivery partners need approval from the partnership before funding is released. The Big Local rep also submits a quarterly report to Local Trust on progress, successes and any areas of concern locally.

Each area is part of the wider Big Local community. Support, learning and sharing opportunities are available to make the most of Big Local as a powerful, resident-led, community focused programme to help make the 150 areas even better places to live.

Bill Badham
Big Local Rep


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