Grants are available for strategic work, including policy work, campaigning and research, which has the potential to improve financial wellbeing at a national scale in the UK, especially for those on low-to-middle incomes.

Current Status
Open for Applications
Maximum value:

Objectives of Fund

The funding is intended for strategic work, including policy work, campaigning and research, which has the potential to improve financial wellbeing at a national scale. The Foundation is interested in funding projects that examine and promote measures to:

  • Increase incomes for those on low-to-middle incomes.
  • Ensure people have an adequate safety net, building savings and assets.
  • Reduce the cost of living, making sure those on lower incomes are not paying more.
  • Address issues related to spending and borrowing, particularly where it becomes problematic.

Value Notes

There is no minimum or maximum size of grant, but typically grants range between £10,000 and £200,000, with most being between £50,000 and £120,000 in total.

The funding may be spread over one, two or three years, and sometimes shorter periods, for example six months.

The Foundation makes between 15 and 20 grants each year, awarding a total of over £2 million.

Match Funding Restrictions

Applicants may need to seek other sources of funding to compliment this award to met total project costs.

Who Can Apply

Organisations that are undertaking charitable activities can apply and the Trust welcomes applications from a wide range of organisations, including registered charities, voluntary organisations, think tanks, campaigning groups, research bodies and universities.

To be eligible organisations must have a governing body with at least three non-executive directors/trustees (at least three who are not employees of the organisation or affiliated to it in any other way).

Priority will be given to organisations working with young people.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Direct delivery of services, unless this is testing a new approach which has good potential to lead to wider change and be of significant benefit.
  • Work that does not address those on low-to-middle incomes living in the UK.
  • Work that is not charitable.
  • Individuals.
  • Work that is primarily the responsibility of statutory authorities.
  • General appeals.
  • Organisations seeking to distribute grants.
  • Promotion of religion.
  • Organisations who have been rejected by the Foundation in the last 12 months.
  • Organisations whose accounts are in serious financial deficit.
  • Organisations that have significant unrestricted reserves (including those that are designated). Up to nine months’ expenditure is normally acceptable. Exceptions may be made for some institutions which need to hold larger reserves such as universities and housing associations.
  • Retrospective costs.

Additionally, the Foundation is unlikely to:

  • Fund work which is solely focussed on areas smaller than a region, such as a neighbourhood, borough or town.
  • Provide more than one grant to a single organisation at a time.

Eligible Expenditure

The Trust funds a range of strategic projects that address specific inequalities, differences and vulnerabilities. Projects must benefit more than individuals and have the potential to benefit large numbers of people within the UK. Projects must aim to create a step change in policy, practice, attitudes and/or behaviour.

Eligible projects include:

  • Policy work.
  • Campaigning.
  • Research.
  • Public attitudinal work.
  • Improving practice and design.
  • Evaluations of existing initiatives that have not been evaluated.

The grant can be used for project costs and for ongoing costs, including staff salaries and overheads.

The Trust’s grant programme is focussed on three areas that influence financial wellbeing. Within each area, there are specific issues that the Foundation aims to address and to be eligible for funding, projects should help to support at least one of these issues.


  • Wages: Projects looking at pay and conditions, including for young adults and those in insecure work, such as the self-employed. Exploring how changes to shareholder dividends and wage distribution (including greater transparency) could increase pay for those on lower incomes.
  • Social security: Supporting improvements to the social security system, ensuring it provides an adequate safety net for people when they need it. This includes work on payment levels, assessment processes, conditionality and sanctions, as well as more radical rethinking of the benefits system. Improving public attitudes in relation to social security.
  • Pensions: Focus is on pension income rather than pension savings (the latter is cover under the “Assets” are). Exploring people’s experience of navigating the complexities related to pension freedoms and ways to improve this. Exploring how to better support those still facing hardship in retirement.
  • Taxation: Supporting improvements to the taxation system, ensuring it is fair to those on low-to-middle incomes and adequately meets the needs of the public services it funds, including social security. Closing tax gaps and loopholes (eg, between employees, the self-employed and company owner-managers); and expanding the remit of taxes (eg, reviewing the scope of National Insurance contributions and pensioners).


  • Cost of living: Reducing the cost of living, including housing, energy, childcare and transport. Tackling loyalty penalties and poverty premiums.
  • Consumer spending: Addressing the negative effects of spending and consumerism, in particular impulsive and compulsive spending. Shifting public attitudes in relation to spending.
  • Problem gambling: Addressing the issues caused by problem gambling and examining the role of government, the industry, regulators and the use of fintech. Identifying gaps in provision for those needing help and support, and how this can be funded.
  • Borrowing: Tackling problematic lending and borrowing including high-cost, short-term credit and other forms of lending such as credit cards. Increasing knowledge, developing solutions, improving good practice amongst firms, and effective regulation, including exploring a universal cap on consumer credit. Particular interest in the role of government and employers in providing credit.
  • Payment problems: Understanding and improving practice when people get into difficulties repaying debt. Examining the role of government, creditors, regulators, debt advice providers and employers.


  • General saving: Focus is on increasing saving. Improved understanding of savings, including whether schemes designed to turn non-savers into savers and current savers into more frequent savers are successful. Exploring how the importance of saving is communicated to those on low-to-middle incomes and how this could be improved and lead to changes in behaviour.
  • Retirement saving: Increasing the amounts people save for their retirement, including enhancing auto-enrolment and extending it to groups not currently covered by it. Exploring how employers can be encouraged to contribute beyond the minimum to employee’s retirement savings. Exploring how pension schemes can better share investment risk via a more collective approach, such as collective defined benefit schemes.
  • Housing: Examining and assessing the value of products and policies which increase home ownership for those on low-to-middle incomes.
  • Taxation: Supporting improvements to the taxation system, ensuring it is fair to those on low-to-middle incomes and adequately meets the needs of the public services it funds. Closing tax gaps and loopholes (eg, in relation to inheritance tax); and making taxes fairer (eg, in relation to housing and land). Shifting public attitudes in relation to the taxation of assets.

The majority of funded projects benefit residents from across the UK, but the Trust is especially keen to support work in Scotland, including UK-wide work which has a Scottish dimension to it. There are specific issues relating to geography, with some regions and areas of the UK faring better than others, which the Trust aims to address through the work it funds.

How To Apply

The next deadline for applications is 3 June 2022 (13:00).

It takes around four to five months from the application deadline to receiving a decision from the Trustees. Applicants will find out if they are shortlisted within two months of the application deadline.

There is a two-stage application process:

  1. Organisations submit an outline application via email. A template for this is available to download from the Foundation’s website.
  2. Short-listed organisations are asked to complete a full application, based on their original submission but with the opportunity to make further changes.

Guidelines and the template for the outline application are available on the website of the Standard Life Foundation.

Contact the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust for further information.

Useful Links