A perfect storm: changes to the funding of the advice sector

Second in a series of meetings to review and analyse changes in the funding of the voluntary and community sector in London

The future of advice services in London proved a key issue for funders when London Funders convened a meeting to explore this part of the funding landscape, on 18 January. Members of London Funders (including officers from well over half of the boroughs) met at Mazars LLP to get up to date on current trends and to share deep knowledge and commitment to good specialist and generalist advice provision.

Alison Garnham, CPAG, outlined the new benefits landscape, emphasising the punitive conditionality of plans for universal credit and “the perfect storm” heading Londoners’ way.

A conversation between Matthew Smerdon, Baring Foundation and Graham Fisher, Toynbee Hall shed valuable light on supporting advice services to adapt and sustain themselves in a demanding environment, offering many examples of new approaches to funding and important principles like helping services act “one step sooner”, i.e. offer support at an early stage before a problem turns into a crisis.

Participants also heard  from Helen Macfarlane, London Borough of Camden, who outlined the borough’s ambitious review of funding of advice services. Rachael Takens-Milne, Trust for London explained the very new Strategic Legal Fund for Refugee Children and Young People, funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and operated through Trust for London and Migration Work, and seeking to make a contribution to law, practice and procedures.

Members contributed their thoughts on what priorities should be and, crucially, what funders can do together. A report of this meeting will be available shortly.

A big thanks for such a good LF meeting. Key issues for Londoners, deep knowledge and commitment in the room and issues to action. 

Kristina Glenn, Cripplegate Foundation