As Local Authorities finalise budgets, this new campaign calls for a halt to the dangerous decline in grant funding by public bodies to charities and community groups.
Available data on public sector grants shows that grants declined from £6 billion in 2003 to £2.2 billion in 2013, and are likely to have even declined further since then.
If the decline continues at the current rate, grants will have all but disappeared by the next General Election, having been largely replaced by short-term, inflexible and bureaucratic contracts.
About the campaign
Grants for Good is run by Directory for Social Change, Charity Finance Group, Children England, NAVCA and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, who are using their networks to gather examples of effective grant-making and build a case for commissioners to choose grants instead of contracts where a responsive local service is needed.
Debra Allcock-Tyler, Chief Executive of the Directory for Social Change, launched the campaign today at CFG's Community Accounting Conference. She said:
“DSC has long expressed grave concerns about the rapid decline in grant funding from government for the voluntary sector. Grants are absolutely essential for charities and community groups because they can put people at the very centre of projects and services, allowing them to solve problems in their community.
When local councils slash grants or dump them for hugely restrictive contracts they are simply shooting themselves in the foot! That isn’t a solution – it just means social problems will increase as vital services provided by charities deteriorate or collapse.
This might seem like a curious time to launch this campaign – when we are staring down the barrel of more cuts and local government in particular is under huge financial pressure. But actually grants can be part of the solution. It’s high time to make the counter-argument and start campaigning for Grants for Good!”
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive of Charity Finance Group, commented:
“We know that excessively complex commissioning processes prevent many charities, specifically local small and medium-sized organisations, from applying. Whilst charities have the power to transform their local communities, the ability of government and local authorities to harness this power is diminishing as contracts become the default to fund the delivery of line services.
We want this trend in local and central government funding for charities reversed away from contracts to unrestricted grants. We know that grants enable charities to better adapt to the needs of their beneficiaries in the long term. Commissioners should be empowered to administer the right form of funding rather than turning to contracts by default.”
Kathy Evans, Chief Executive of Children England, said:
“Grants are more than just a sum of money to the charities and community groups that rely on them. They’re the lifeblood of thousands of local initiatives that families thrive on, from play schemes to employment support for disabled people. Where contracts tend to be short term and impose restrictive conditions on service delivery, grants empower people to deliver what works for their community – sustainably. We really can’t afford to lose them.”
Paul Streets OBE, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales said:
“As an independent grant maker we know that grants are a highly effective way of funding, allowing us to choose quality but supporting those we fund to run their services to best meet need. In contrast contracts have high transaction costs and force organisations into prescriptive ways of delivering, often focused on meeting tick-box targets over real outcomes.
The move from grants to contracts has also led to larger organisations dominating the provision of public services to the detriment of small and medium sized charities and the communities and individuals they are specialist in reaching. We are delighted to support this campaign and to make the case to central and local government that good grant-making does work and we need more not less of it.”
If you want to get involved in the campaign, the group is urging any voluntary or community sector organisation who has benefitted from grant funding to share their stories with the campaign and to join the ‘Save our grants’ summit on Friday 4 March in central London.
This event will run from 12pm – 2pm and lunch will be provided. To register your interest to attend please email email@example.com.
There is also a campaign website at www.dsc.org.uk/grantsforgood, and you can follow the campaign twitter account @Grants4Good.
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