Briefing note from MOJ on Competition to distribute £2.5 million to support vulnerable women involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system.

On Friday 11th June, the Ministry of Justice launched a competition to distribute £2.5 million in new grant funding for women’s community services that support vulnerable women already in contact with or at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Government has already invested £7 million in women’s community services to support delivery of its priorities as set out in the Female Offender Strategy (2018): fewer women coming into the criminal justice system and reoffending; fewer women in custody (especially on short-term sentences) and a greater proportion of women managed in the community successfully; and better conditions for those in custody. Our investment in 2018 and 2019 supported women’s services across England and Wales to sustain and enhance current services, fill gaps in provision, and provide properties for new women’s centres.

Last year, in response to calls from the sector, we adopted a different investment approach and made £2.5 million available to cover the core costs of women’s community services such as wages, utility bills and rent, rather than to directly support service provision or new property acquisitions. Our objective was to start to address the financial instability of the sector.

We distributed just under £2 million of the £2.5 million funding available last year. Feedback suggests the competition was undersubscribed because of the impact of the pandemic as well as a clash with the timetable for qualifying onto the new probation dynamic framework. This year, in order to ensure the grant covers the longest possible funding period the application period will straddle mobilisation of services on day one of the reformed probation model. However, we have added an extra week to the application period to try to smooth any potential clashes that might arise.

This year we are once again focusing on core costs to try to further stabilise the sector. The competition follows the model used last year, but with some changes to take account of learning and feedback. So, although there will still be 12 lots, one for each of the probation regions with regional evaluators assessing the applications received for their region, there will be no regional probation director priorities this time. The priorities seemed to cause confusion, blurring the distinction between a competition that funded core costs with priorities that focused in the main on service provision.

For this year’s competition, we have increased the minimum and maximum amounts that organisations can bid for to £40,000 and £100,000. Similarly, we have further clarified the eligibility criteria to make clear that any organisation can apply, irrespective of size and whether they operate nationally or locally. We are using the MOJ procurement portal to run the competition but have rationalised the technical questions so they are clearer and there are fewer to answer. And for organisations that applied successfully last time or are already onboarded for the Probation dynamic framework they will not need to complete the majority of qualification questions again. The competition will be available tomorrow afternoon at Ministry of Justice Sourcing Portal
(bravosolution.co.uk). Once logged in search for ITT_5304.

Applications are invited from the following organisations currently working within the women’s community sector:
• Third Sector
• Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Sector VCSE
• Registered Charities
• Exempt Charities (as per the Charities Act 2011)
• Community Interest Companies

Organisations working within the women’s community sector from whom applications are
particularly welcome are likely to have some or all the following characteristics:
• most of the people benefitting from the service are women, particularly those in contact
with the criminal justice system and/or facing multiple disadvantage.
• a track record of providing women’s specialist services nationally or regionally/locally.

If you are aware of local women’s community organisations who meet this description, please alert
them to this funding opportunity to allow them to consider applying.

MOJ Women’s Community Sector Core Costs Funding Briefing Note