Welcome to the Returners Fund

In 2018 the Government Equalities Office (GEO) launched 2 rounds of funding under the Returners Fund, jointly worth £1.5million, which aimed to support organisations working with returners.

In early 2019, the Government Equalities Office will be launching Round 3 of this grant programme to distribute up to £500,000 to support organisations to run projects aimed at returners from groups facing the greatest disadvantage. As such, projects are expected to:

  • Create new job opportunities within the private sector that could not otherwise be established by the market;
  • Address specific barriers for returners that can be replicated at scale;
  • Demonstrate self-sustainability beyond the initial funding period of the grant; and
  • Develop an understanding of how best to support a) returners to gain paid employment and b) employers to recruit and support returners.

The Government Equalities Office defines a ‘returner’ as people who have taken time out of employment for caring responsibilities and want to return to paid work. They have previously had a job and have been economically inactive for at least one year.  Please be aware this is a distinct group and not simply individuals not in education, employment or training. Eligible projects must demonstrate that they will be focussed solely on returners.

The Government Equalities Office is looking to support potential returners who face persistent barriers to returning to work, such as:

  • People who speak little to no English
  • People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • People with no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status, but who have the right to work
  • People with substance abuse support needs
  • People with mental or physical health issues
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • Ex-offenders
  • People in challenging economic circumstances
  • People who experience multiple barriers due to their gender and their faith, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

This is not an exhaustive list and GEO is keen to support any groups who face multiple and persistent barriers to employment. Of particular interest are women who, for whatever circumstances, experience isolation or marginalisation. This could be due to one or combination of factors such as the ones listed above.

Projects also must be able to demonstrate strong partnerships with employers with an outcome of job opportunities as a result of this funding.  It is also important that they contribute to the Government Equalities Office learning as to best practice approaches in supporting Returners.

GEO is also interested in working with potential returners with protected characteristics, such as BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), disabled people and older workers (age 50+), who also face multiple and persistent barriers to returning to work.

The presence of a protected characteristic does not necessarily equate to a person being ‘marginalised’ and we would expect potential bidders to justify their choice of which group to support. Projects will need to demonstrate that your beneficiaries are considered to be from groups facing significant barriers in returning to work.

The application deadline for the fund is still to be confirmed, it is likely however that the portal will be open for applications from the first week in February, with a closing deadline set for the first week of March 2019. We will update this page as soon as the date is confirmed.

Please note that applying for funding from Round 3 of Returners will be a one-step process. There is no longer a requirement to submit an Expression of Interest form. Instead applicants will be expected to submit full applications for funding from the outset.

If you are not already registered, you will need to create a new user account by selecting Register below. If you have an account and wish to manage your application, grant, or user account, select Login.

This online application portal is managed by Rocket Science on behalf of the Government Equalities Office.

Please see the Round 3 Prospectus and the updated FAQs for further information concerning Round 3.

Note also, that there has been a change to the previously advertised schedule, and the application deadline is now

17.00 on 14th March 2019.



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Returners Fund Prospectus


For further guidance, please see the Returners Fund Prospectus


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