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Consulting on the future role and scope of the grants scheme - London Councils grants - closes 10th November 2010

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London Councils is undertaking an extensive consultation exercise to establish the best way of using its grant resources for the benefit of boroughs, voluntary groups and people living in the capital.

Under the existing system, London’s boroughs take a decision each year to pool some of their funding and fund voluntary services on a regional level through the London Councils Grants Programme. The consultation is looking at whether a pan-London grants scheme is the best way for the money to be used, or whether boroughs can achieve a greater impact by spending money on their own locally determined priorities.

Some of these funds are directed to the HIV community (£634,431 period 2009/2010), printscreen of London Councils 2009/2010 awards to the LGBT community.

The consultation will run until 10 November 2010 and London Councils is urging all those working or with an interest in the voluntary sector to take part in the online survey and make their views heard, including the London Boroughs; other key funders of the voluntary and community sector in London; other major public sector bodies working in London; and of course voluntary sector organisations (that are currently commissioned, and those that are not).

We strongly recommend that you read both the background paper and review the consultation form before starting your responses on-line. The background paper can be downloaded on the left, or from the survey itself.

The online form seeks views on:

  • The overarching proposal for change
  • Categorisation of each currently commissioned service into London-wide, sub-regional, and "essentially local in nature" groupings
  • The timescale for change
  • The wider impacts of change

Please do take this opportunity to express your views by joining our consultation here<

http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/grants/aboutourfunding/futureofgrants.htm<

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Briefing paper on the formula grant consultation

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London Councils' members invest £28m a year funding over 300 voluntary organisations. All of the grants we make seek to improve the lives of people who live in, work in and visit London.

Commissioning Themes

Grants are awarded for 69 priority areas (services) across 12 themes:

http://www.grants.londoncouncils.gov.uk/<

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Item 5 - Review of the Future Role and Scope of the London Boroughs Grants Scheme

Summary

At its AGM on 8 June 2010, Leaders Committee announced the need to review the Grants Scheme to establish the degree to which services would now more appropriately be commissioned and/or delivered at a local level. It is anticipated that this would lead to a significantly reduced London-wide Scheme, with resources being made available for boroughs to utilise for locally determined priorities.

This report provides brief details on

  • the background to the review,
  • how it has been conducted,
  • responses to the consultation exercise
  • the key issues and principles that have emerged;

and asks Grants Committee to make recommendations to Leaders’ Committee on 14 December on the future role and scope of the Scheme.

Recommendations

That Grants Committee Members

 Receive this report and note its contents;

  1. Consider the key issues and principles that have emerged;
  2. Make recommendations to Leaders’ Committee on
  3. The principles of the future scheme, and the related priority areas, as set out in paragraphs 43 to 45;
  4. The categorisation of currently commissioned services into A (London-wide), B (Sub-regional), or C (Local in nature) categories;
  5. The timing of the proposed changes
  6. Transitional arrangements to enable the process of change to be properly managed;
  7. Whether an appeals process is relevant for organisations affected by the proposed changes;
  8. The level of budget for the Scheme for 2011/12 to deliver the changed role and scope of the Grants Scheme.

 

NB A separate report concerning the budget-making process, and recommending a 2011/12 budget to Leaders’ Committee follows at item 7 today. 

Recommendations

 

That Grants Committee Members

 

1.      Receive this report and note its contents;

2.      Consider the key issues and principles that have emerged;

3.      Make recommendations to Leaders’ Committee on

·         The principles of the future scheme, and the related priority areas, as set out in paragraphs 43 to 45;

·         The categorisation of currently commissioned services into A (London-wide), B (Sub-regional), or C (Local in nature) categories;

·         The timing of the proposed changes

·         Transitional arrangements to enable the process of change to be properly managed;

·         Whether an appeals process is relevant for organisations affected by the proposed changes;

·         The level of budget for the Scheme for 2011/12 to deliver the changed role and scope of the Grants Scheme.

 

NBA separate report concerning the budget-making process, and recommending a 2011/12 budget to Leaders’ Committee follows at item 7 today.

 

related documents

http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/committees/agenda.htm?pk_agenda_items=4271<

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The London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC) and the Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) have put further pressure on the decision by London Councils to make cuts to the London Boroughs Grants Scheme.

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The proposed cuts will see the current budget of £26.4 million cut by 63.5% to £9.9 million with the saved funds reallocated at the discretion of Borough leaders.

LVSC and VSF have raised concerns that these cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable members of London society with the reduction in frontline services to:

  • Children and young people.
  • Homeless individuals.
  • People at risk of becoming involved in crime.
  • People who are vulnerable, isolated and at risk.

Several London-wide programmes will also be affected including improving accessible transport, encouraging healthy living, sustainability, enabling young able bodied and disabled Londoners to engage in sport and supporting social enterprise.

VSF chair, Sam Mauger, said:

“London Councils are dismantling a scheme which has been a beacon of excellent delivery to London’s communities with low unit cost achieved through shared provision. The impact will be great pain, no gain.”

LVSC CEO, Peter Lewis, said:

“This scheme was set up to help the poorest Londoners through targeted London-wide programmes meeting identified need.

“At a time of cuts to key public services London Councils should be prioritising funding for this programme which serves some of the most disadvantaged Londoners.

“Leaders should not be retaining funds to fill potholes in their own boroughs.”

http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/newsview.aspx?RF=NEWS&WCU=DSCODE%3dOTSS...<

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Review of the future role and scope of the London Councils Grants scheme - A summary report for London Councils

London Councils has been undertaking an extensive consultation exercise to establish the best way of using its grant resources for the benefit of boroughs, voluntary groups and people living in the capital.

Under the existing system, London’s boroughs take a decision each year to pool some of their funding and fund voluntary services on a regional level through the London Councils Grants Programme. The consultation is looking at whether a pan-London grants scheme is the best way for the money to be used, or whether boroughs can achieve a greater impact by spending money on their own locally determined priorities.

The consultation ran until 10 November 2010 and London Councils urged all those working or with an interest in the voluntary sector to take part in the online survey and make their views heard, including the London Boroughs; other key funders of the voluntary and community sector in London; other major public sector bodies working in London; and of course voluntary sector organisations (those that are currently commissioned, and those that are not).

Various reports have been produced by Ipsos-MORI as part of the analysis of the online consultation responses to the ‘Review of the future role and scope of the London Councils Grants Scheme', they include:

http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/grants/consultation.htm<

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JUDICIAL REVIEW OPENS INTO THE DECISION OF LONDON COUNCILS TO CUT £10 MILLION FROM LONDON GROUPS

On Thursday 27 January the High Court will consider the legality of a decision taken by London Councils to impose funding cuts of over £10 million to voluntary and community groups in London.

The decision will result in the early termination of funding for over 200 projects, resulting in the withdrawal of key services and support to thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged Londoners – from bereaved families to young homeless people.  Many of the groups affected could face closure.

The court case, brought by users of the Roma Support group, will challenge London Councils’ failures to properly consult, to follow a fair and transparent decision making process, or to comply with its equality duties.

Evidence highlighting the failures and the impact of the cuts has been provided by many affected voluntary sector groups including INQUEST; Asylum Support Appeals Project;  Asylum Aid; London community law centres including Brent, Lambeth, Central London, South West London and Springfield; the Law Centres Federation; Community Accountancy Self Help; Women’s Resource Centre; Respond; and Clean Break.

INQUEST is set to lose £60,000. Since being commissioned by London Councils in July 2008, it has provided advice and casework services to 1,600 bereaved family members and their advisers across London. It will have little chance of finding alternative funding in the short timescale imposed by London Councils.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, an organisation supporting bereaved people, said:

If the cuts go ahead, thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged Londoners will be left without essential, specialist support and advice services at a time when they are most needed.  The consequence of this loss of funding will mean that many of these crucial services will be forced to close.

Louise Whitfield, solicitor for the claimants said:

It’s clear that London Councils have acted unlawfully and my clients, along with many others, will lose vital services for their disadvantaged children.  An overarching principle of the grants scheme is to promote equality and reduce discrimination, but these cuts completely undermine those goals in the most extreme way.

A letter has been sent today to The Guardian today signed by a number of the affected groups.

Notes to editors:

1. The case is R (Hajrula & Others) v London Councils.
2. The claimants are represented by counsel Helen Mountfield QC and Aileen McColgan from Matrix Chambers, instructed by Louise Whitfield of Pierce Glynn Solicitors, 8 Union Street, London SE1 1SZ, tel 020 7407 0007.
3. Grounds for the legal challenge include that London Councils acted unlawfully in their lack of consultation and poor decision making process and that they failed to comply with their equality duties.
4. Text of letter to The Guardian:

We represent some of the 177 organisations and voluntary sector groups facing sudden, massive cuts imposed by London Councils.

 

London Councils have chosen to pull out 12 months early from agreements funding key services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across London.  A vast range of frontline services will cease – from support to bereaved families to specialist advice for young people facing homelessness.

 

Funding will be ‘repatriated’ to individual London Boroughs with no guarantees that funds will be used for similar community based services: borough leaders will be free to use the saved funds for any purpose they choose.

 

The High Court will consider a Judicial Review today, challenging the legality of the decision.  We are hopeful that the court will overturn the London Councils decision, to prevent this devastating withdrawal of funds which will see most of the affected organisations struggling to survive and many facing closure.

 

Cuts come just as the full force of the Government’s austerity packages hit people and communities across London and specialist services provided by voluntary sector organisations like ours are most needed.

•    Deborah Coles, Co-director, INQUEST

•    Roma Support Group

•    Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

•    Maurice Wren, Director, Asylum Aid

•    Lucy Perman, Executive Director, Clean Break

•    Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, Galop

•    Terry Stokes, Chief Executive, London Advice Services Alliance

•    Wesley Harcourt, London Manager, AdviceUK

•    Tim Brogden, Policy & Networks Development Officer, London Voluntary Sector Council

•    Bolaji Bank-Anthony, Chief Executive, Black Neighbourhood Renewal and Regeneration Network

•    Bonnie Mitchell, General Manager, Spare Tyre

•    Joan Neary, Sector Development Officer, Kairos in Soho

•    Lisa Charalambous, Manager, Central London CVS Network

•    Roseanne Sweeney, Director, Asylum Support Appeals Project

•    Debbee Arthur, Project Coordinator, Young People’s Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

•    Nikki Rummer, Tender

•    Rahana Mohammed, Head of Policy, Race On The Agenda

5.

Those benefiting from INQUEST’s advice services and related information, development and policy work, are London-wide across all 33 boroughs.  The issues it takes up on behalf of bereaved Londoners relate to London-wide services, such as the Metropolitan Police, prisons, hospitals and coroners across the capital.  The specialised and overarching nature of its work means that in practice no single borough would treat it as a local service for funding purposes.  Significantly, London Councils itself described INQUEST as “undertaking pan-London work” in the report to the Grants Committee dated 25 November 2010.

6. With respect to London Council’s equality impact assessment: 40% of bereaved Londoners accessing INQUEST’s services are from BAME (black and minority ethnic) communities.  The specialist casework service that INQUEST provides also tackles racial inequality as BAME communities are disproportionately represented in contentious custody deaths (through the mental health, criminal justice and immigration systems).  Approximately 56% of family members receiving complex specialist casework services on current London cases are from BAME communities.  This figure rises to 70% in relation to INQUEST’s casework on the most contentious deaths.

http://inquest.gn.apc.org/website/press-releases/press-releases-2011/lon...<

also covered by http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/27/legal-challenge-frontline-...<

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London Councils Grants Programme – aftermath of the judicial review

At London Councils Leaders’ Committee on 8 February 2011, the chair of the Grants Committee, Sir Steve Bullock made a short statement recapping the High Court judgment on the recent grants decisions by London Councils. The judgment found against the claimant, the Roma Support Group, on many points, and against London Councils in respect of its handling of equalities impact assessment and its categorisation of services, timing and transitional arrangements. The latter must all be reviewed. In effect, therefore, all the grants decisions were quashed by the High Court, but the budget set by London Councils was not challenged. The Leaders’ Committee discussed what this means in terms of work to be done by the depleted team at London Councils (where some decisions have already been taken about cuts to the grants team and some staff are taking voluntary redundancy).

London Councils has already withdrawn the letters which gave notice that funding would cease by 30 June. These had been sent to organisations which London Councils had decided were not best supported pan-London.

In the next few months while this procedure is followed, London Councils will have some rounds of consultation to undertake, firstly on the elements it will take into account in determining the categorisation of services. Once this is done, it will undertake an equalities impact assessment on each individual organisation currently funded by London Councils. This does mean a review of each one – 360 of them – even those which were identified as serving strategic London priorities and expected to have their grants running for the full length of currently commissioned services.

Because the budget is not different as a result of the judicial review, there will then be further consultation on a revised categorisation of all the currently funded organisations and the transitional arrangements for organisations whose services will be decommissioned. After consultation responses have been absorbed, the Leaders Committee will be asked for a decision about what services to decommission in order to meet its budget. London Councils must then give the organisations which will lose their funding a further three months’ notice of termination of grant. Until then, all the organisations currently supported by London Councils are in the position of not knowing whether their funding continues or not.

This extra work and additional notice will mean extra costs not in London Councils’ 2011-12 budget – mainly extension of all the current grants, at around £1.2 million per month. This will be met from London Councils’ reserves as far as possible, and by an additional levy on the boroughs if needed.

On the original timetable, the boroughs were being encouraged by London Councils to make their decisions as quickly as possible about which, if any, of the decommissioned services they planned to support, to avoid a gap at the end of June 2011 when funding was going to cease. London Councils suggests that this thinking should carry on so that boroughs are ready with plans once new pan-London decisions are taken about what to support and what to cease funding.

London Councils officers hope that the whole procedure can be completed and new notices issued by May: meanwhile, all the voluntary organisations involved are in a further period of uncertainty and boroughs are left with questions around already difficult budget decisions.
London Funders will aim to keep members informed on this and welcomes feedback (to gaynor@londonfunders.org.uk<). Given funders’ concern about the original process we will again write to the Chair of London Councils’ Grants Committee expressing London Funders’ willingness to inform and involve members and encourage the input of all interested funders of London’s VCS into the consultation process.

http://londonfunders.org.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ealWAq9o0nY%3d&tab...<

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One week left to submit views on supplementary grants consultation, says London Councils

People working or with an interest in the voluntary sector have just over a week left to respond to a supplementary consultation on the future of a pan-London grants budget.

London Councils’ supplementary consultation on the future scope of the London Boroughs Grants scheme will draw to a close on 8 April 2011.

Designed as an addition to the original consultation that ran last year, the supplementary consultation has a special focus on equalities issues. 

London Councils’ Corporate Director of Services, Nick Lester said:

“We’re keen to remind those people with an interest in the voluntary sector that they still have a week to come forwards and give us their views.

“Once the consultation closes on 8 April, we’ll be making sure we meet our equalities duties whilst moving quickly at the same time.  This will allow us to provide the voluntary sector with clarity as soon as we can.” 

Notes to editors:

The supplementary consultation was launched following a High Court ruling that the original decision did not go into enough detail around equalities issues.   It was designed as an addition to the original consultation that ran last year.

For information on the grants review and the supplementary consultation please see the Q&A available here

Take part in the consultation here

The closing date for responses is 5pm, Friday 8 April 2011.

For media enquiries please contact the press office on:  020 7934 9970 or email us

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The council has also reduced the number of organisations receiving grants from 91 to 31.

The voluntary sector grants budget in 2011/12 has been reduced by 15 per cent to £669,360, in response to a 27 per cent cut in the council's own settlement from central government over the next four years.

The council has received a record 131 applications for funding for this period, worth almost £2.3m and has said that £62,649 of the budget would be used to extend existing grant payments for 2010/11 for an extra month.

It has also promised that £20,781 would be used to fund support services for the voluntary sector.

Portfolio holder for community and cultural services for Harrow Council, Rekha Shah, said that the council was prevented from supporting the sector as much as it would like owing to the cuts to its own budget from the government:

"This is a problem we share with the voluntary sector and it demands a shared solution.

"We recently consulted with voluntary groups on the issue and are now working on a new grant funding system that will strengthen our partnership with the sector and ensure we deliver the best results for people in Harrow."

http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/newsview.aspx?SH=&WCU=DSCODE=OTSSCMLIVE...<

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London Councils invites you to respond to this public consultation about its future grants programme and its review of the potential equalities effects on the protected groups as part of its duties under the Equality Act 2010.

We will not publish individual replies. You may respond in an individual capacity or on behalf of an organisation.

Take part in the consultation now by following this link Opens in a new window<, or read on here for background information, supporting documents and the timetable.

You can also view Grants Committee papers relating to this on the London Councils site Opens in a new window<

This survey should take about 30 minutes. The survey will close at 5pm on Friday 23 March 2012.

About us and our grant funding

London Councils represents all 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority which all pay an annual subscription to cover the organisation’s running costs.

London Councils also provides a grants programme with the costs met by the London boroughs and City of London Corporation. The Local Government Act 1985 requires that at least two-thirds of the constituent councils (these being the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation) must approve the proposed overall level of funding for grants to voluntary organisations and other costs incurred in making the grants.  The level of funding that each council contributes to the Grants Scheme is in proportion to the population of their respective borough.

Grants are made through commissions for fixed periods to enable delivery of efficient and high quality services designed to improve the lives of vulnerable people in London. The grants aim to deliver London wide services that do not duplicate what is best provided by boroughs, or groups of boroughs, and voluntary organisations working together. The commissions to deliver services meet the principles and priorities agreed by London Councils.

Background

In June 2010 the London Councils’ Leaders’ Committee announced a review of the grants programme with a view to establishing which services would now be more appropriately commissioned and delivered at a local level. This reflected the increasing move towards decision-making at a local authority area level and the overall pressure on public resources. It was anticipated that the review would lead, over time, to a significantly reduced London-wide scheme. An extensive consultation was undertaken in 2010, and this was further supplemented in 2011. The review and consultation resulted in new principles and priorities for the London Boroughs Grants Scheme.

The principles and priorities agreed in December 2010 were: 

Principles

  • Commissioning services and not organisations
  • Commissioning fewer services but resourcing them better
  • Continuing a genuinely London-wide programme defined as:

    • genuinely pan-London front line services
    • infrastructure support to service providers
    • capacity building for service providers
    • voice and representation services
    • services where the mobility of clients is key to delivery (domestic violence, homelessness etc)
    • services that are particularly specialist.

Priorities

  • homelessness
  • domestic violence
  • poverty
  • high impact crime
  • specialist services
  • generic second tier
  • services that voice needs
  • health (specialist conditions)

The Grants Committee has suggested that reductions in budget would continue to be necessary to achieve further substantial reductions in the programme. In May 2011, the Grants Committee reviewed the budget in the context of financial constraints and making decisions locally.  Each of the 105 commissions now funded by London Councils is scheduled, subject to the continued availability of funds, to be funded until the end of their funding agreements in 2012/13.  London Councils has now agreed its budget for 2012/13, with an overall level of expenditure of £12.5 million for the Grants Scheme in 2012/13 (inclusive of £1 million ESF income). This compares to a total expenditure of £20.767 million for 2011/12. This sum is sufficient to continue to fund each of the 105 commissions up to the end of their fixed term current funding agreements in 2012/13, at a cost of £5.3 million. It is also sufficient to fund approximately 80% of this current portfolio of commissions after the end of their fixed term agreements and until the end of the 2012/13 financial year.

A list of the current commissions can be seen at www.grants.londoncouncils.gov.uk Opens in a new window< and shows the date when current individual agreement to provide services and grants will end.

Read more about the consultation process<, or take part in the consultation now<

 

http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/grants/consultation/default.htm<

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