Cabinet Office
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£16.8 million support for free advice services

A new £16.8 million central government fund to help not-for-profit free advice services in England will be delivered by the Big Fund, Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, announced yesterday.

The fund will provide immediate support to debt, welfare benefits, employment and housing advice services. In addition, the Cabinet Office will conduct a review to ensure that people continue to have access to good quality free advice services in their communities.

Nick Hurd, 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. The Cabinet Office will also be carrying out a review of free advice services to ensure that we do all we can to help the sector.

Nat Sloane, BIG England Chair said:

In delivering the Advice Services Fund programme on behalf of the Cabinet Office, BIG will work to ensure that this important funding reaches these organisations as quickly as possible. These grants will make a real difference in enabling advice services to continue to provide good quality support and guidance to people in their communities.

The new Advice Services Fund will open for applications by the end of November and will be managed by BIG Fund. It will be for not-for-profit advice providers in England. Applicants must:

  • provide advice in at least one of the following priority areas: debt, welfare benefits, employment and housing; and
  • be able to evidence public funding cuts of at least 10% for the specified advice service areas from central and local government sources in 2011/12.

Priority will be given to organisations with higher levels of reductions in funds. How applicants plan to use their grants, their plans for the future (including ways to improve efficiency) and how the quality of their advice services help meet local needs, will also be taken into account. The Advice Services Fund will provide grants of £40,000 to £70,000 to be spent on service delivery.

The Government review will conclude early next year. It will look at the funding environment for these services, likely levels of demand, and how government can play a positive role.

Notes to Editors

  1. Full details of the eligibility criteria will be available on the BIG Fund website when the fund opens for applications by the end of November.
  2. Across the UK a total of £20 million has been released for advice service funding. £16.8 million will be spent in England, the remaining £3.2 million in devolved administrations.
  3. The £107 million Transition Fund gave support to over 1,000 charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises most vulnerable to public spending cuts.