AdviceUK members get help to lobby MPs

National Coalition for Independent Action will be paid to support advice charities

Advice charities network AdviceUK is to pay campaign group the National Coalition for Independent Action to help its members "engage forcefully" with politicians and funders.

The coalition, which campaigns against what it sees as encroachments by government on the independence of the voluntary sector, will bring together advice agencies in four areas of the country and help them influence funders, local councillors and MPs.

"The NCIA has got a track record of being outspoken but also getting people mobilised," said Chilli Reid, head of development at AdviceUK. "We are seeking to support organisations to become more politically savvy, to give them the confidence to be able to negotiate and put their cases."

AdviceUK said that one of the main issues facing independent advice agencies was the shift from grants to commissioning.

Steve Johnson, chief executive of AdviceUK, has claimed that 90 per cent of the UK's 20,000 voluntary sector advice agencies could close as a result of it. The NCIA opposes commissioning and in 2008 successfully campaigned for the retention of a local authority grant programme for advice services in Hackney.

But Reid said the project would focus on more than just funding. "We are trying to get people to come together to be more effective, putting the case for what they are doing but also what they think and know from experience are the needs and demands of the people who use their services," he said.

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