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The UK Government has published its 2018-19 grants data in the 360Giving Data Standard

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On Thursday 29 October 2020, 16 central UK Government departments published open data about the grants they have made using the 360Giving Data Standard. In doing so, the government has joined the UK’s leading trusts and foundations who already publish their grants data openly in the Standard, to help us all have a fuller picture of grantmaking.

You can now get data about 43,000 grants that were active in 2018-19, with a total value of £32bn. This is an exciting development as it sets the precedent for more open data about government grants being published in future, which will help make significant progress towards our vision of grantmaking in the UK being more informed, effective and strategic.

Why is this significant?

Since 2016, the UK Government has committed to collect more data on its grantmaking in line with the 360Giving Data Standard, and through the Cabinet Office Government Grants Management Function (GGMF) to also publish more granular data on central government grants expenditure

In October 2017, data from two departments – the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport – was published using the 360Giving Data Standard, covering grants active in 2016-17. In November 2018, this successful trial was followed by the publication of granular grants data from 17 central government departments active in the 2017-18 period, with a total value of £10.8bn. However, due to data quality issues in the 2017-18 grants data, the information couldn’t be included in 360Giving tools and platforms, such as our flagship search-engine for grants data, GrantNav.

A long time coming

At 360Giving, we have worked closely with the GGMF team to help improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the grants data they collect, to help ensure that the data they subsequently published would meet the 360Giving Data Standard. To ensure the 2018-19 grants data would be of sufficient quality to meet the Standard, the scheduled publication was initially delayed from November 2019 to March 2020. A further delay was caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What made it difficult for the government to publish its grants data?

Each government department manages the information about its grants internally, and then submits the information into a central Government Grants Information System (GGIS). This is a large amount of data from different sources, and so collecting, cleaning and managing it has been a challenging task. Thanks to improvements made to the GGIS database, however  – especially around the validation and enrichment of the organisation identifiers used in the data –  the UK government has finally been able to share grants data that complies with the 360Giving Data Standard. The Standard is, in fact, the approved open data standard for use by central UK Government departments and their agencies when disclosing grants data.

What does the data tell us?

Department name Total grants Total value
Department for Education 16,708 £3,326,740,085
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 8,899 £8,432,150,392
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4,756 £1,252,683,217
Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government 3,546 £7,410,087,544
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3,359 £367,178,249
Department for International Development 1,512 £8,354,263,791
Home Office 1,191 £805,921,099
Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1,036 £120,543,721
Department for Transport 956 £1,012,426,053
Ministry of Justice 465 £34,131,510
Cabinet Office 438 £20,203,713
Ministry of Defence 408 £60,901,839
Department for Work and Pensions 224 £667,136,349
Department of Health and Social Care 199 £153,698,531
Department for International Trade 192 £13,123,699
HM Revenue & Customs 8 £1,670,454
Total 43,897 £32,032,860,245

The grants data published by departments are for ‘general grants’ – defined as being given for a particular purpose, and includes grants awarded to organisations and individuals. The grants to individuals are anonymised and in some cases these grant records aggregate the data from multiple awards. Some recipient organisation names have been redacted due to the sensitive nature of their grant. 

This data excludes ‘formula grants’, a type of funding distributed to certain types of recipient, such as local authorities, based on a mathematical formula, and also ‘Grants in aid’, which are funds allocated from one part of government to another. General grants are split by allocation method, based on whether the recipients competed for funding, met certain criteria, or were funded directly (known as ‘un-competed’). Each grant record includes the details of which allocation method was used and recipient type. 

The data released includes details of all government grant schemes active in 2018-19, which provides an overview of their total value, start and end dates, allocation method and duration, and notes about the data. A Grants Landscape Report has been published to accompany the data release, providing context to the grants data, an overview of government grant spending and guidance on how the data has been compiled.

How can I access the data?

The 2018-19 grants data and associated documentation is available for download from the Government Grants Register. The data has been published in a single file, split into tabs for each government department and including further information about the grant schemes and notes about the grants. 

When will the grants appear in GrantNav?

The government grants add a significant amount of data to the 360Giving dataset, doubling the total value of grants awarded and expanding the types of grants included, featuring funding awarded to the public, private and voluntary sectors. We’re working on making the data available in GrantNav, which will include the grants awarded to organisations (but exclude grants to individuals) and will dig further into the data and impact on 360Giving data users in a follow-up post to this blog.

What does this mean for the future?

The Cabinet Office Government Grants Management Function’s work to improve the quality of data at data collection stages is ongoing. In particular, we look forward to seeing further improvements in the use of robust organisation identifiers, to increase the usefulness and usability of the data shared about the 2019-20 government grants, due to be published in March 2021.

Sharing this historical data makes it possible to explore government grant funding in detail for the first time, and we hope to see this data being published in a more timely way in future. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, many new funders joined those already publishing data about the grants they’ve made using the 360Giving Data Standard. Now, thanks to the brilliant efforts of these funders, over £350 million of COVID-19 response grants have been published, and can be searched and analysed with our COVID-19 Grants Tracker.

At a time when coordination between funders is vital to enable the best use of resources, there is greater urgency for the government’s own funding response to the crisis to be shared in the 360Giving Data Standard.

We’re working on making the data available in GrantNav, which will include the grants awarded to organisations (but exclude grants to individuals) and will dig further into the data and impact on 360Giving data users in a follow-up post to this blog.