Jackie Lowthian, Women’s Network Coordinator, gives details of the funding announced by the Ministry of Justice for specialist women’s services, and an update from Clinks’ policy team about our work to inform the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy.
Women’s Community Sector Core Costs Funding Programme 2020 – 2021
To support the Ministry of Justice to achieve the aims set out in the Female Offender Strategy and in recognition of the essential services provided by specialist women’s organisations in the criminal justice system, the Ministry of Justice is inviting applications for one-off grants for core costs.
We welcome this grant programme and in particular its targeted support to specialist women’s services and the funding of 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. We are concerned that the timescale for applying for and spending these grants is very tight but hope that this marks a recognition of the need for this type of funding which will continue into the future.
The grants are available to specialist voluntary organisations providing gender-specific services for women across England and Wales. They are not to commission services but rather to cover core costs, which can include:
- Non-project costs
- 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.
£2.5 million in total will be distributed in 12 regional 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
The minimum grant will be £30,000 and the maximum will be £60,000, with payment made before 31st March 2021. Organisations can apply for funding from the regional lot where their women’s services are delivered, rather than where the organisation is based if this is in a different region. Organisations can apply as a single entity, or as an umbrella consortium formed from a number of organisations with shared premises.
Regional Probation Directors are closely involved in the grant scheme to make use of their local knowledge and ensure the funding responds to local needs. In order to shape each regional lot to more closely address local needs, each Director has been asked to nominate two local priorities. These priorities could be a specific group of service users or a specific need. Organisations will be invited to explain how they perform against these local priorities.
The Ministry of Justice uses an electronic portal tool to manage grant competitions and communicate with applicants. There will be no hard copy documents issued to applicants and all communications, including the submission of applicant responses, will be conducted via the e-sourcing portal. Once logged in, search for “ITT_4373”. 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.
The following timescales are indicative and subject to change:
- 6th July 2020: Issue of requests for proposal on the Ministry of Justice portal
- 10am on 27th July 2020: Deadline for clarification questions from applicants
- 10am on 14th August 2020: Deadline for applications (this is an extended deadline from the original deadline of 10th August)
- 16th November 2020 – 20th November 2020 – Notification of results to bidders (successful and unsuccessful)
- 20th November 2020 – Grant award and signature
- 31st March 2021 – Grant expiry
Applications are invited from voluntary sector organisations currently providing gender-specific services for women, as registered charities, exempt charities (as per the Charities Act 2011), and Community Interest Companies.
Organisations from whom applications are particularly welcome are likely to have some or all of the following characteristics:
- Most of the people benefitting from the service are women, particularly those in contact with the criminal justice system and/or facing multiple disadvantage
- A track record of providing women's specialist services nationally or regionally/locally
- A local connection to the area
- Small and community based with a low financial turnover.
How we’ve been influencing change for women in contact with the criminal justice system
The Female Offender Strategy
It has been two years since the Ministry of Justice published the Female Offender Strategy which detailed the department’s aims and priorities for the next five years. Welcomed by the voluntary sector, it explicitly recognised how essential specialist women’s organisations working in criminal justice are for supporting the Ministry of Justice to achieve the strategy’s aims. Clinks continues to inform the development of the strategy and some of its key tenants such as the concordat for women in contact with the criminal justice system and the residential women’s centres. Alongside voluntary organisations including Women in Prison and the Prison Reform Trust, we’re members of the Advisory Board for Female Offenders. The most recent meeting of the group on 30th June included an update on this work.
Giving ‘teeth’ to the concordat for women
The concordat “aims to set out how local partners and services should be working together in partnership to identify and respond to the often multiple and complex needs of women as they journey through the criminal justice system.” The Ministry of Justice is still developing this and aims to publish it in the coming months. We are working to inform this process and are outlining the need for the concordat to have true accountability and ‘teeth’ for it to be successful and make a difference to women locally.
Residential women’s centres
In May, it was also announced that the first residential women’s centre pilot will be located in Wales. There remain many questions about the detail of the centres, with concerns being raised about the risk they could lead to up-tariffing and lead to more women being in contact with the criminal justice system for longer. Alongside others in the sector, we have worked to reflect these concerns to the department and are working with the Ministry of Justice to enable them to engage with the voluntary sector further on these issues.
Our women’s network
Clinks’ women’s network provides tailored support and networking opportunities for organisations providing support to women in contact with the criminal justice system. You can read more about organisations working in this area, and our work to support them and advocate for change, on this page. For more information, please contact Jackie Lowthian, Women’s Network Coordinator on Jackie.email@example.com
We are currently running a series of events for these organisations. The next events look at improving engagement of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups; and reflecting on the power of lived experience leadership. Find out more here