Following its grant funding programme in 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is inviting voluntary organisations to apply for grant funding to strengthen community based provision for women in the criminal justice system. Women’s Network Coordinator Jackie Lowthian and Policy Manager Nicola Drinkwater take a closer look at this opportunity. The funding is available to support organisations’ core costs. Funding that covers the costs involved in running an organisation, not just direct project or service costs, is vital to the voluntary sector’s sustainability and ability to thrive not just survive.
Clinks welcomes the funding and its aim to increase the sustainability of the sector. We are pleased to see recognition by the MoJ that a network of viable women’s community sector organisations is essential to ensuring the commitments in the Female Offender Strategy are realised and for supporting the roll out of the new probation model. We know that the holistic, women-specific support these organisations provide is much needed for women in contact with the criminal justice system.
How much funding is there in total?
£2.5 million in total will be distributed in 12 lots, aligned with the probation regions:
- East Midland
- East of England
- Greater Manchester
- North East
- North West
- South Central
- South East
- South West
- West Midlands
- Yorkshire and the Humber
What costs can be met?
Core costs include:
- General operating and running costs (including rent, utility bills, business rates)
- Management, administration and office costs (including wages of those involved in management, administration and office functions, as well as staff training costs)
- Overheads and support costs as defined by the Charity Commission's statement of recommended practice.
What costs cannot be met?
- Funding is not available for the direct costs of service provision (e.g. paying wages of outreach or support workers)
- The funding is available to meet core costs in order to try to increase organisations’ financial stability and is not intended to fund service provision.
How much can you apply for?
Organisations can apply for a grant of between £40,000 and £100,000 and should be able to show a minimum turnover of twice the value of the grant applied for. Grants will be awarded to cover core costs incurred between mid/late September 2021 - 31st March 2022 and must be spent by 31st March 2022. It will not be possible to apply retrospectively for funding to pay for core costs already incurred before mid/late September.
Who is eligible to apply?
Organisations with a track record of providing women's specialist services nationally, regionally or locally are the main target for this funding. Applications are particularly sought from organisations that work predominantly with women, especially those in contact with the criminal justice system and/or facing multiple disadvantage.
Eligible applicants are those currently working within the women’s community sector from the following groups defined by MoJ:
- Third Sector
- Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Sector VCSE
- Registered Charities
- Exempt Charities (as per the Charities Act 2011)
- Community Interest Companies
Applications are currently open and will close at 10am on 16th July 202
How to apply
Applications can be made via the e-sourcing portal. Once logged in, search for “ITT 5304”. Guidance on how to register and the contact details of the helpdesk may be accessed via the portal. Please direct any clarification questions directly to the portal.
What has changed since the 2020 grant programme?
Whilst we welcomed the grant programme launched by the MoJ in July 2020 that funded core costs for specialist organisations working with women in contact with the CJS, organisations raised significant concerns with the programme. We fed these back to the MoJ, both through our role as a member of the Advisory Board for Female Offenders (ABFO) and through our ongoing influencing work.
- We said: The timing for the grant programme was challenging as many organisations were in the process for qualifying for the Dynamic Framework to deliver rehabilitation and resettlement services as part of the probation reform programme, which placed further considerable pressure on their resources during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- They did: The MoJ have taken the demands on organisations' time into account and recognise that the time within which applications can be made will straddle mobilisation of services on day one of the reformed probation model. They have added an extra week to the period when applications can be made to account for any competing demands on organisations' time.
- We said: Bidders were required to show how the funding would support very specific regional priorities which undermined the intended focus on - and in some cases could not be achieved through resource for - core costs.
- They did: Although the funding will still be distributed across 12 lots based on the new probation regions, bidders are not required to show how they meet specific priorities of Regional Probation Directors this time around.
We welcome the changes the MoJ has made and hope this makes the grant funding process more proportionate and accessible for organisations. It is however important that funding is provided to organisations on a longer term basis to support their sustainability but we recognise that the MoJ faces the challenge of one year spending reviews in this respect.