Research and Analytics

General Finance

External Funding

June 2007

This publication, now in its third year, provides background information on local authority external funding operations, including an examination of the number of bids submitted, bid success rates, the value of external funding awarded and the details of bids operated in partnership.

The survey was developed in partnership with a number of local authorities in order to help fill the gap and provide the evidence. It is hoped that authorities can start to compare their external funding operations with others who may be more successful in the bidding process and be better informed on how to optimise their external funding. To express your interest in joining the working party group please contact

For the purposes of this survey External Funding is seen as discretionary money not accounted for within the Formula Grant, or equivalent, distributed by various UK and EU agencies on a business case and / or competitive basis requiring an application. Specific and special grants within and outside AEF may be included provided it is on a business case and / or a competitive basis.

The Role of External Funding Within Authorities

77% of authorities that responded to the survey employ specific officers with responsibility for external funding. Employing officers have consistently played the most significant role in the way authorities deal with external funding since this survey begun in 2004. Less than half the responding authorities had either an external funding co-ordinating group in place, an internal database of funding sources, a co-ordinated bid tracking mechanism or formally approved external funding corporate bidding protocols, all aspects that are key to good external funding management.

Bid Success Rate

A higher number of bids are submitted, on average, within English Counties, whilst a lower number are submitted, perhaps unsurprisingly, within Non-Metropolitan Districts. The average number submitted during 2005/06 of 34.7 has fallen again by a further 9% on the corresponding number of bid applications submitted in 2004/05. Total success rate, excluding bids pending a decision, at 79% has dropped from the 84% success rate achieved for 2004/05.

Service Area

There has been little change this year in the proportions of bid applications by service area. Almost 50% of bids submitted were within cultural, environmental and planning services, with the next highest area, education services, accounting for 23%. Rates of success varied by service, reaching 100% within both fire and police services, although the small number of submissions in these areas should also be noted. There was also a high success rate within central services of 95%, with the lowest actually being in cultural, environmental and planning services at 72%.

Partnership Bids

36% of the total bids submitted in England for responding authorities were operated in partnership with other bodies. Of these, the local authority was the accountable body in 60% of the cases. 43% of total partnership bids were operated in partnership with other public bodies, 32% with other local authorities, 26% with the third sector and 22% with the private sector. The key change from 2004/05 is that partnership bids with the third sector have reduced from 56% to 26%.

Value of External Funding

The average value of external funding bids applied for during 2005/06 was 65 per head of population, ranging from 18 per head among English Counties to 155 per head within English Unitaries. The average value of grant bids actually won totals 36 per head of population, 58% of the total applied for.

Internet subscribers can access further statistical information, including data at local authority level, by accessing the links on the left. If you do not currently subscribe, further details on how to access this title are availablehere.

June 2007

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