The Big Lottery Fund and the Cabinet Office have announced a new Advice Services Transition Fund for advice charities affected by cuts to legal aid and other advice service budgets.
The Advice Services Transition Fund will provide funding over a two-year period from 2013/14 and will encourage more collaboration.
Grants are available for local not-for-profit providers of advice services in England to continue to give vital help to people and communities in the areas of welfare benefits, debt, housing and employment.
Grants will range from £50,000 to £350,000. In order to apply for funding, advice charities will need to form partnerships and show how they will work collaboratively to ensure the long-term sustainability of their services. It is expected that some 300 projects will be funded. The deadline for applications is 28 January 2013.
Big Lottery Fund Director for England Dharmendra Kanani said:
“Getting the right advice at the right time can be a lifeline for people and communities most in need. Current services are struggling to keep up with increasing demand and the greater complexity in the types of problems people are facing.
“Times are tough for advice providers and for people at the thin end of the wedge. This is a chance to invest in much-needed transformation of services so that they can adapt, respond to need and survive.”
Although Advice UK Chief Executive Steve Johnson welcomed the funding, he said it did not replace the £50 million that would be lost from cuts to legal aid cuts in 2013 and the local authority funding cuts to many advice services. Applying for funding would “clearly present challenges for local advice services given the emphasis on partnership and collaborative bids”.
The Cabinet Office has also published a review of the not-for-profit social welfare advice sector in England in a report entitled “Not-for-Profit Advice Services in England”. The report concludes that the government has a role to play in supporting the sector to adapt to the new funding realities, but advice providers will also need to take the initiative and change the way they work.
The report recommends that advice organisations should:
- Work more collaboratively together to build sustainability and effectiveness.
- Take early action to prevent the problems which cause people to seek advice.
- Diversify their funding streams and service provision.
- Demonstrate their impact more effectively.
- Use all appropriate channels to reach those in need of support.
To read the report, please click here (opens new window).
For further details about the Advice Service Transition Fund, visit the Big Lottery Fund website (opens new window)