Post by Colin Henderson on Jan 24, 2012 21:01:06 GMT
Let's all share some good news for once. If you are successful in your bid let us know, and it would be good to know what you are REALLY using the cash for. Escaping from the deathly embrace of the LSC? Redundancy costs? One way tickets to Brazil? Anyway, the first results are due out early February.
The criteria on the Q & A document are given as: ● The level of cuts your organisation has experienced. ● The quality of the advice services you deliver. ● How you intend to spend the money and the difference this will make. ● The strength of your organisation’s plans for the future. ● Whether your organisation has received a grant from the Transition Fund.
In making decisions the Government may also take into account equitable spread across England regions and across the four Advice Services Fund categories: debt, employment, housing and welfare benefits.
I hear that the last sentence is the important one. It's all about location, location, location ...
Post by Colin Henderson on Feb 28, 2012 10:06:29 GMT
I have heard of a number of agencies getting through first round and, subject to verification, should get their one-off funds. But LAG reports a 50% failure rate with twice as many applying as funds available:
"LAG has learnt that applications to the Advice Services Fund, which was established by the Cabinet Office to offset the impact of the cuts on advice centres in the current year, have outweighed the cash available by more than double.
A total of £16.8m was allocated for England, but according to letters sent to unsuccessful bidders seen by LAG, 622 applications were received worth £35m. In a letter to those rejected, the Big Fund - who are administering the cash on behalf of government - made it clear that charities who needed money nonetheless had to do without: "Given the competitive nature of this programme and with a budget of £16.8million, we were unable to offer grants to all of the worthwhile applications we have received.”
The balance of the £20m fund was divided between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Applicants had to demonstrate they would receive a cut of 10% or more in the current financial year and apply for a grant worth between £40-70,000. Advice agencies which had been awarded money from the Transition Fund last year were told they would not get priority for Advices Services Fund cash.
Many not for profit (NfP) advice services are being hit with cuts from local government and other funders. Any help is welcome, but the Advice Services Fund is clearly inadequate, as over £80m from April next year is due to be cut from legal aid for housing, employment, debt, benefits and other areas of civil law, usually referred to as social welfare law (SWL). Around 300 advice centres, such as Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres rely on legal aid income to provide specialist legal advice services in SWL. LAG is calling for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill, which is due to reach the report stage in the House of Lords next week, to be amended to bring back into scope employment, benefits, housing and other areas of civil law the government plans to cut.
The Transition Fund had distributed £105m in grants to charities and other NfP organisations between March and May last year. It was aimed at assisting them to “adjust to the new funding environment.” The fund was open to all charitable and NfP organisations. LAG has spoken to a number of advice organisations which have lost out on Advice Services Fund grants because they had previously received Transition Fund money. They have been placed on a reserve list for a grant from the fund, but they point out that unlike the Advice Services Fund, the Transition Fund was not intended to replace cash lost from legal aid or other funding intended for providing services to the public."
"Advice Services Fund overwhelmed with applications Advice charities have been left in crisis after government's emergency cash fund for the sector was only able to help half the charities who needed it. A fifth of those surveyed feared they would be forced to close next year. The £16.8m fund government announced for advice charities like Citizens Advice bureaux, Law Centres and AdviceUK Members in England received 620 applications worth over £35m, meaning hundreds of organisations were left with nothing.
In an email to those rejected, the Big Fund - who are administering the cash on behalf of government - made it clear that charities worthy of funding nonetheless had missed out: "Given the competitive nature of this programme and with a budget of £16.8million, we were unable to offer grants to all of the worthwhile applications we have received.” Eighty eight charities have been placed on a reserve list for the funding but have been told that it is unlikely they will be funded.
Campaigners have dismissed the fund as a bung, pointing out that it was announced at a crucial debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which will see charities lose over £51m each year in legal aid funding alone - three times as much as the fund.
Will Horwitz of the Justice for All Campaign, whose members include Citizens Advice, Shelter, the Law Centres Federation and Advice UK, said:
"The Government are trying to buy off opposition to their Legal Aid Bill, but for charities desperately struggling already and facing huge cuts next year when the Legal Aid changes are introduced, a one-off fund this small, given a year in advance of the cuts, won't make much difference.
“The advice review, which the Cabinet Office are running and the Government claim will set out a future for the charity advice sector, is a real disappointment - nine months after it was first announced it has not published a terms of reference or a timetable.
“It seems as though £20m is the price government are willing to pay to get their Bill through. We urge MPs and Peers to stop them."
The legal aid bill will see 600,000 people lose access to legal aid. Charities like Citizens Advice Bureaux, Law Centres and AdviceUK members provide most of the legal help in areas such as benefits, debt, employment and housing law, and stand to lose £51m if the cuts go through. It reaches its final Report Stage in the House of Lords next week, and peers from all parties have put down substantial amendments. Campaigners are expecting more embarrassing defeats for the Government in the Lords. Email Justice For AllJustice for All a coalition of charities, legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public."