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Grants update 2023

Over the last couple of years many groups have continued – and in some cases started – to offer grants.

We know this can be challenging, partly because there are still two sets of rules about savings and grant maximums.

Back in 2020, we changed the rules about the amount of savings a grant applicant can have, and the maximum grant which can be awarded for each category of item. But the pandemic interrupted work to consult groups about these changes. So, we said that groups could choose whether to continue using the 2019 rules or move to the 2020 rules instead. This option has continued until now.

Making things fairer

Over the last two years we’ve consulted with groups in workshops and surveys, and formed a grants working group made up of ten volunteers from groups across all four nations. This working group has been meeting regularly to review our grants rules and processes, taking the feedback from other groups into account. We’ve also considered the financial climate - many groups are finding it harder to raise funds, and the cost of living has increased.

Our aim was to agree a single set of rules, so that we have a fairer system that treats all applicants in the same way. This has often meant striking a balance between rules to suit groups with limited funds, and groups that could afford to give more.

We’ve now agreed these core rules, and we’re asking all groups to start using them from January 2023. The new 2023 rules mainly follow the 2020 amounts for savings and grant maximums, with some changes to reflect feedback. So, for groups that are already using the 2020 rules, there’s little change. The new 2023 rules will mainly affect groups that have continued to use the 2019 rules.

What’s changed in the new 2023 rules?

The key decisions are:

  • Health and Wellbeing Grant category list – this has been reviewed and a single category list agreed.

We considered feedback from groups that the categories were too narrow and added back some items that had been removed. We also reviewed the list of items we won’t consider, and clarified that we can consider other items that will have a positive impact on health and wellbeing - as long as they aren’t on this list.

  • Health and Wellbeing maximum grant amounts – these have been reviewed, and a single set of maximum amounts agreed.

We considered the current average cost of items, and the reduced income of many groups.

  • Savings limit – applicants must have under £6,000 in accessible household savings to be eligible to apply for a Health and Wellbeing Grant.

However, we’ve also agreed a policy to consider exceptions when applicants need specific high-cost items, and will be using their savings towards the item, bringing them below £6,000.

We recognise this limit may feel low compared to the limit of £16,000 we’ve had in the past. But, looking at applications to the national grant funds until the end of 2019, almost all had savings below £6,000. So, setting this limit means we can give a clear message that we want our funds to help people least able to afford items they need, while the exception recognises the cost of specialist items may be above the limit.

  • Financial assessment tool – the amounts have been updated.

The household allowances used in the tool are based on the Minimum Income Standard, and haven’t been reviewed recently. New amounts reflect increases in the cost of living, so have increased significantly.

Where can I find detailed information about the new amounts?

New 2023 versions of all the resources above will be available on the volunteer website from January. Please download them then.

We’re in the middle of considering a grant under the 2019 rules. What do we do?

All groups will need to use the same new (2023) set of rules from January. If you’re one of the few groups that has still been using the 2019 rules, you might need to phase this in. So, if you’ve already started dealing with an application under 2019 rules, it’s fine for you to complete it under them.

Moving forwards

Next year we’ll be exploring whether there are other ways to simplify some of our grant processes. And whether there are ways of regional working that could help our grants to reach more people.