Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: 29th January 2019

About the Challenge Fund

How much funding is available?

The total value of the Challenge Fund is £2.7 million split across two strands:

  • £1.6 million for digital support for families (Digital Support)
  • £1.1 million for support for families with existing disadvantages that place them at greater risk of parental conflict (Support for Disadvantaged Families)

Applicants to the Digital Support strand of the Fund can apply for between £100,000 and £1.6 million. Applicants should note that we expect to fund three to five Digital Support initiatives in total. We are only likely to fund a very large (over £1 million) initiative if it is of truly exceptional quality and reach.

Applicants to the Support for Disadvantaged Families strand of the Fund can apply for between £100,000 and £250,000.

How many initiatives do you want to fund? (added 17.01.19)

Dependent on the nature and size of the applications we receive, we expect to fund:

  • between five and seven Support for Disadvantaged Families initiatives
  • - between three and five Digital Support initiatives

Should we receive one or more exceptional and higher-value Digital Support applications, we may fund a smaller number of Digital Support initiatives.

Eligibility and criteria

Is this funding only available for organisations and activities in England?

Support for Disadvantaged Families applicants must be based in, and delivery must take place in, England.

Digital Support applicants must be based within the United Kingdom to submit applications to the Digital Support strand. Initiatives will be required to focus on an English audience although this support will be available to families living elsewhere within the United Kingdom.

Can I apply for funding for our regular or day-to-day work? (added 17.01.19)

The Challenge Fund has been set up to support innovation and to gather learning where there are currently no firm answers. We will only fund activities already being delivered where there is a strong case for doing so and where doing so would make a strong contribution to the evidence base.

Are you looking for national projects or local ones?

We do not want to limit the geographic reach of initiatives. It is important that your application clearly shows the rationale behind your initiative.

Would you consider initiatives that are primarily digital for the Support for Disadvantaged Families strand? (added 17.01.19)

Yes we would consider applications to the Support for Disadvantaged Families strand that include digital innovation for practitioners and other professionals to work more effectively with disadvantaged families to reduce parental conflict. Proposals must show how they meet the needs of families with specific disadvantages and not replicate existing methods, tools and processes.

Applications must clearly meet the criteria for the Support for Disadvantaged Families strand, outlined within the guidance. We will not fund the updating of websites or IT infrastructure, such as client management systems or other back office functions.

Digital initiatives intended to support and engage disadvantaged families to identify and address parental conflict themselves independently, rather than proposals intended primarily for professionals or practitioners, must apply to the Digital Support strand and demonstrate how they will meet the target user group’s needs.

I’m an organisation operating and seeking to deliver an initiative in one of the excluded local authority areas listed in Annex C of the guidance. Can I still apply for the Support for Disadvantaged Families Strand of the Challenge Fund? (added 29.01.19)

Yes, if you are an eligible organisation (organisations from the public and private sector; voluntary and community organisations; and social enterprises) in England. It is only the local authority bodies listed in Annex C of the guidance who are excluded from bidding for the Support for Disadvantaged Families strand.

However as part of the assessment process, we will consider whether the activity in the bid is likely to have a significant impact on the take-up or evaluation of the wider Reducing Parental Conflict Programme within those areas. A key aim of the Challenge Fund is to encourage innovation and, as such, we will not fund activity which is already taking place unless there is a strong case for doing so.

I’m a local authority seeking funding for Practitioner Training and Strategic Leadership Support through the wider Reducing Parental Conflict Programme. Am I eligible to apply to the Challenge Fund? (added 17.01.19)

Yes, this would be eligible.

There are restrictions in place are for the 31 local authorities delivering evidence-based face-to-face interventions as part of the Reducing Parental Conflict Programme, and for the nine local authorities which have made successful bids under the joint Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Health and Social Care Children of Alcohol-Dependent Parents Innovation Fund. Please see the Guidance for more information.

The Challenge Fund is aimed at reducing conflict below the threshold of domestic abuse only. How does government define what is domestic abuse?

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

Can I apply for funding to support a bursary, grant or equivalent to allow someone to conduct research or pay for education or study?

No. This would not be eligible.

Can we apply for funding for project overhead costs?

You can include some of your overheads in your budget as well as the direct costs of your initiative.

Overheads are costs that partly support your initiative, but also support other projects or activities that your organisation provides. These could be a proportion of salaries of core staff such as administrators. They could also be rent and utilities costs. Most organisations will have their own way of apportioning overhead costs to projects.

Overhead costs should be wholly justifiable and ideally not exceed 10% of your total initiative cost.

Can I include VAT in my budget?

You may only include VAT in your costs if your organisation cannot recover VAT from HM Revenue and Customs. We regret we are unable to give any advice to individual organisations regarding their VAT liabilities. We would encourage organisations to seek professional advice.

Is match funding required?

No, it is not required.

You are able to include funds from elsewhere if you wish to do so, but these should ideally not be more than 20% of your total budget. Any funding from other sources must be secured.

Are costs for assets or capital items eligible?

No. We will not fund equipment or assets that have a lasting value beyond the activities we are funding.

The Guidance for each strand of the Fund includes a full list of ineligible costs.

How long will I have to wait for a decision?

We aim to inform applicants of the outcome of their application by 31 March 2019.

Applying to the Challenge Fund

How do I apply?

The application process consists of three stages.

  1. Self-assessment: From 11 January, applicants will be able to complete the online checklist before deciding if you wish to submit your initiative idea for an eligibility check. This will enable you to identify quickly whether your application is likely to meet the Challenge Fund criteria.
  2. Eligibility check: From 11 January, you will be able to tell us about your idea (basic information). Initiative ideas that clearly do not meet the Fund criteria will not be allowed to proceed past this stage. If we need further information, we may contact you about your idea.
  3. Complete your application: Organisations that have completed an eligibility check and have been invited to apply to the Fund will be able to access the online application portal between 21 January and 15 February.

Will I get an acknowledgement when I submit my eligibility check? (added 17.01.19)

You will see an acknowledgement message on screen and this will be followed up by an automated email acknowledgement. Your acknowledgement will be sent to the email address you provided at registration.

You must ensure you click ‘Submit application’ within the portal when you have finished completing the form. If you do not click ‘Submit application’ your eligibility check will not be reviewed.

Who can apply?

The Fund is open to organisations from the public, private and third sectors. Individuals cannot apply for a grant from the Fund.

It is important to understand that we expect organisations or partnerships applying to the Fund to have specific experience and expertise. The Fund guidance sets out in detail our expectations of applicants.

Is it a requirement that applications are from a partnership?

No. Applicants are not required to have partners; initiatives can involve just one organisation.

However, for Digital Support initiatives in particular applicants are strongly encouraged to work in partnership. This is because we will expect Digital Support initiatives to bring together relationship expertise and digital expertise.

For Supporting Disadvantaged Families initiatives we would also encourage applicants to consider working in partnership.

Can I submit more than one application?

Acting as the lead applicant, organisations must not submit more than one application to each strand of the Challenge Fund.

Organisations may be involved in multiple applications where they are listed as a partner.

Miscellaneous questions

Who owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) of any content produced by initiatives?

IPR remains the property of the grant recipient but the grant recipient must grant a free licence to the Department for Work and Pensions to use whatever they produce.


If you have a question that is not answered here, or in the Fund Guidance, then please contact us through the ‘Contact’ page of the Challenge Fund website.

We regret we are unable to advise on the strength of your project idea.