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Big Fund to provide grants for free advice services in England

Advice Services Fund will help them advise on debt, benefits, work and housing

The Cabinet Office
The Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office has announced that a £16.8m fund for free advice services in England will be delivered by the Big Fund, the non-lottery arm of the Big Lottery Fund.

The Advice Services Fund was announced in the summer by Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, as a £20m fund to help law centres and advice services threatened by the government’s plans to cut legal aid.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said the remaining £3.2m would be available separately in Scotland and Wales.

The fund will open for applications by the end of November and will provide grants to organisations providing debt, welfare benefits, employment and housing advice services.

Applicants will have to provide advice in at least one of the four areas and be able to evidence public funding cuts of at least 10 per cent for those advice service areas from central and local government sources in 2011/12.

The fund will provide grants worth between £40,000 and £70,000 to be spent on service delivery.

The Cabinet Office has also announced that it will carry out a review to ensure that people have access to good quality free advice services in their communities. The review, which will conclude early next year, will look at the funding environment for these services, likely levels of demand and how the government can play a positive role.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "This is a serious commitment to help free advice services carry on delivering much needed help to people struggling with debt, welfare benefits, employment and housing problems in these difficult economic times."

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