Government should be made to explain short-term funding

Government departments should be made to offer three-year funding deals to charities or explain why they are not doing so, Compact Commissioner John Stoker has said.

Stoker is calling on ministers to institute the system following concerns voiced by the NCVO yesterday that rape and sexual abuse projects across England and Wales are facing imminent closure after having their funding cut at very short notice.

According to the NCVO, projects under threat include a rape crisis centre in High Wycombe that was only given a few weeks’ notice that it wouldn’t receive funding in the coming year from the Ministry of Justice’s Victims Fund. The fund distributes £1.25m to voluntary organisations working with victims of sexual violence and abuse.

The umbrella group, which is calling on the Government to provide interim funding to those rape crisis centres facing closure, says funding for the centres’ previous year’s work ran out in March but some have still not heard either whether it will be renewed, while others had waited for months for an answer.

Stoker said the Compact committed Government bodies to keeping voluntary organisations informed about progress with funding applications and to be timely in giving funding decisions. Charities are required to be given a minimum of three months’ notice of the end of grant funding.

“This commitment appears not to have been kept in this case,” he said. “I have asked the Ministry of Justice to make a statement of the circumstances, for confirmation that funding decisions for the current delivery year are not similarly outstanding in other programmes, and for future assurances that Compact commitments to prompt decisions on funding will be observed.”

Stoker is also concerned that the length of Victims Fund grants has been reduced from two years to one, pointing out that the Government’s interim report on the third sector review last December said three-year funding to third sector organisations should be “the norm rather than the exception”.

He said: “I welcome this clearer commitment, and have suggested to ministers that it should be underpinned by a simple process of public reporting under which departments and agencies would demonstrate delivery and give reasons for any departures from the norm.”


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