A serious matter regarding London’s victim services funding
Responsibility for victims’ services will be devolved to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) from October 2014. The total pot for victims’ funding across the country will increase, but Government is allocating the funding based on population only (14.69% for London). While this will benefit areas outside London, this form of allocation ignores London’s higher crime rate and greater demand for victim services, and will result in a £3 million shortfall for victims’ services in London. As a result of the Government’s decision, London will receive just £1 in every £7 of victims funding, despite having 1 in 4 victims overall and many more in need of specialist support.
The Mayor, Boris Johnson, and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, are lobbying government to change their approach and give London a Capital City Uplift of £3m to enable MOPAC to commission services at a level commensurate with the rest of the country.
For more information and what you can do to support their efforts please see MOPAC’s briefing on funding for victims’ services in London here and a letter from Stephen Greenhalgh asking for your help here.
PCCs replace the Police authorities as the mechanism to hold the Police force to account; their role will include setting local policing priorities and objectives, developing a 5-year Police and Crime Plan, setting the police budget and precept.
It is in the PCCs powers to distribute grants to fund community safety initiatives; they will also act as commissioners for all local victim support services. However, from 2014 onwards, PCCs will no longer receive a separate ring-fenced community safety fund, which includes funding streams to violence against women and girls (VAWG) services. Instead, PCCs will have one budget and can choose how they divide it between policing and community safety activity.
If a PCC lacks understanding and knowledge of the prevalence, effects and types of services needed for survivors of domestic and sexual violence (and other forms of violence), some VAWG services’ funding may be under substantial threat. It is vital that the women’s sector can work to engage with, and influence, PCCs to ensure that VAWG remains a high priority locally.
The Women’s Resource Centre is working to ensure the sustainability of VAWG organisations in this new agenda. WRC is part of a consortium of organisations working together on a project called Safer Future Communities which is led by Clinks and funded by the Home Office. The aims of the project are:
- To prepare the VCSE sector for engaging with PCCs and identify changes to the local commissioning landscape
- To support local networks to build the capacity of the local VCSE sector to engage and influence the PCC agenda by ensuring they have the necessary skills and tools to develop and communicate a convincing case about local needs on community safety issues and the sector’s role in addressing them
- To secure more effective working between the VCSE, Community Safety Partnerships, PCCs and other statutory agencies that impact upon community safety
- Establish local VCSE networks in each of the police force areas including London, led by a local infrastructure organisation or partnership, to channel information, advice and training to local VCSEs to help them engage with their PCCs
In this area of the website you can find the latest news on PCCs, together with resources including briefings on:
- What the introduction of PCCs means for the VAWG sector
- How to engage with and influence the PCCs agenda
- Competition or collaboration? Working together as the women’s sector
We are all aware of the rapidly changing environment in which we are working. Not only is there less money available for the voluntary sector in the form of grants, the ‘opening up’ of service providers means organisations are more likely to compete against each other to deliver contracts. The myriad of policy changes that are occurring simultaneously – within the NHS, Local Authorities, police and community safety, devolved decision-making and public sector cuts – makes this a difficult time for women’s organisations. Not only do they have to deliver their services on tighter budgets, but they are often facing increasing demand for their services, more stringent monitoring and evaluation processes to demonstrate their effectiveness, having to link into local structures and decision-making forums, campaign for the visibility of women’s issues within these structures and so on.
WRC is aware that for our membership organisations, many of which are small and have limited capacity, it is a daunting time. However, it is important to remind ourselves that many organisations share the same concerns and with increased collaboration and partnership working, we can keep on top of, as well as benefit from, the opportunities that these changes are bringing about.
WRC has always campaigned for and supported specialist women’s organizations. We continue to emphasise their ongoing need and importance at a time when generic and bigger organisations are in better positions to bid for, and win service delivery contracts. In response to the limitations of commissioning practices that often overlook smaller and/or specialist organisations, partnership and collaboration between organisations is the best way to ensure that expertise is not lost through the closure of organisations and loss of staff. We want all women to get the services that best meet their needs.
This briefing was prompted primarily by the changes happening to Community Safety Partnerships and their funding, which is being transferred to the new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), who will be elected into post in November. Their introduction also sees them becoming responsible for all violence against women funding streams. These will no longer be ring-fenced to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG). While it is still unclear what funding streams this will actually include, we are concerned that it is likely to include Home Office funding for MARAC’s, ISVAs and IDVAs and Ministry of Justice funding for Rape Crisis Centres. After 2014/15, these funding streams may even cease to exist all together.
With funding for women’s organisations delivering VAWG services on increasingly shaky ground, and the Localism Act ushering in an era of wholesale devolved decision-making and structures with little attention to equality issues, the impacts on the diversity and specialisms of the women’s sector could be dire.
However, it also presents an opportunity for greater collaboration and partnership working to ensure that services are not duplicated, smaller and larger organisations can co-exist, and women can access the services that best meet their needs. In fact, this may be the only way in which smaller and/or specialist organisations can survive the next few years.
One of the recommendations we make about the changes that are happening with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners is for the VAWG sector in each police area to meet and begin to strategise as a sector. This is because PCCs will be responsible for commissioning local VAWG services as part of their remit to tackle crime, provide victim services and improve community safety. A collaborative approach by the women’s sector would ensure that all organisations, including those that are smaller and specialist are not sidelined.
Whilst an ‘intelligent’ commissioning approach would encourage a bigger range of service providers to deliver services, we know in reality that this rarely happens. Contracts are, in many cases, awarded to those organisations with the capacity to cover wide areas at a relatively low cost. For example, individual, women-only organisations delivering normally either ‘only’, ‘domestic’ or ‘sexual violence’ services (even though it is obviously so much more that ‘just’ this), will stand less of a chance of winning funding to deliver services because of their perceived ‘narrower’ remit and geography than larger generic organisations such as housing associations, which often have little or no expertise in the issues around violence. Working in partnership with other organisations to bid for funding (whether for grants or contracts) makes it easier to argue that you deserve the money because:
a) You make it easier for the commissioner who prefers to award only one grant or contract to deliver all VAWG services in their area
b) It means a more co-ordinated, joined up and efficient service for women and no duplication of services
c) You can pool your evidence that demonstrates the extraordinary value of your organisations and services (e.g. through all of your monitoring and evaluation, broader research about the value and benefits of women-only services, why the women’s sector is unique and value for money, how the different needs of different, marginalised groups of women will be met because of the range of expertise and specialisms that make up the partnership etc.)
It is also good for the sector as it promotes a more unified and collaborative working approach, retains the expertise and independence of individual organisations rather than closing or being taken over, as well as sharing of good practice. In a time of cuts and gender blindness at local level, partnership working may offer the only solution to retaining (and hopefully growing) existing women-only, specialist services.
What forms of partnership working are there?
A Women’s Network brings together a range of women’s organisations in a particular area primarily to raise the profile of the women’s sector locally and do joint local lobbying and campaigning work for the benefit of the sector and women-only services e.g. NE Women’s Network, WHEC.
[button link="https://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/stronger_together_leaflet.pdf" color="silver"] Download[/button] For more information, here's our Stronger Together leaflet
Interested in getting involved? Contact the WRC Policy Team.
The PCC will in all likelihood have limited knowledge of intelligent commissioning practices, nor the benefits of women-only and specialist services. A Network that can deliver these key messages and lobby within the new local structures will be better placed to win funding to deliver their services, and ensure that the needs of vulnerable women are met by local services. In addition, a women’s network could feed into the local Safer Future Communities network.
A number of women’s organisations can also come together under a more formal, contractual arrangement where they can then bid as a partnership to deliver services e.g. WSSN case study
The PCC will be in charge of the budget to tackle crime and promote community safety. They will be able to award contracts to organisations delivering services that meet these aims. The VAWG sector is well placed to deliver on reductions in the number of crimes being perpetrated (e.g. through their perpetrator programmes or by providing refuge space that limits the exposure of women to further incidents of domestic and/or sexual violence).
Having a partnership of organisations that can deliver all VAWG services in an entire police area will stand a greater chance of being awarded this contract rather than individual organisations. Not only because of the capacity of the partnership to deliver more services across a wider area, but also because they will be better able to demonstrate how they can meet the needs of different groups of vulnerable women through one contract e.g. BME women, refugee women, women who have experienced sexual violence, those with drug and alcohol dependencies etc.
Benefits of partnership working
|Benefits for smaller and/or specialist women’s organisations||Benefits for larger and/or more generic women’s organisations||Benefit for the women’s sector, women-only services and women|
|More likely to win contracts to deliver services for victims of violence as part of a partnership||Don’t have to ‘buy in’ specialist expertise of service deliverers||Women-only services are protected and not replaced by generic and/or mixed organisations|
|Shared load of a limited capacity||Opportunity to support smaller, specialist organisations, their input and expertise is useful in service planning and delivery||Women’s sector has a stronger voice at local level in terms of decision-making for the benefit of women in the area|
|Opportunity to retain specialist service/staff/expertise||Greater strength of collaboration that puts you in a stronger position against generic organisations when bidding for contracts||A sector that can share resources, knowledge and build capacity will be more efficient|
|Retain independence of your organisation and expertise of your staff||Retain independence of your organisation and expertise of your staff||More diverse sector better able to meet women’s needs|
Overcoming barriers to partnership working
1. Logistics and practical knowledge of building partnerships and networks
The first step is to see if there are any women’s sector networks, forums or partnerships in your area. If there are, it is worth getting in touch if you want to be involved and build on the work that is already taking place. To see a list of Safer Future Communities networks and find your local network contact, go to: Safer Future Communities network contact
If you are thinking of setting up a formal partnership to bid for service contracts, it may be worth approaching existing women’s sector partnerships for advice. At any rate, local mapping is a must, if only to avoid duplication and possible tensions and conflicts further down the line. See WRC’s membership map for help with your local mapping exercise.
This document is crucial reading if you are thinking about setting up a network, partnership or forum
For an example of an existing partnership’s contract please click here:
2. Overcoming existing divisions within the sector locally
Organisations are set up at various times and in various contexts. The increasingly marketised environment, coupled with the lack of grant funding available to voluntary organisations inevitably creates a more competitive environment, which can impact on how organisations relate to each other. While there may be perfectly legitimate limitations as to when and how organisations can work together, WRC would like to suggest that divisions based on a reaction to increased competition should be reconsidered.
WRC’s function as an umbrella body for all women’s organisations means our focus is on promoting a diverse and thriving sector. If a ‘protectionist’ strategy by individual organisations is adopted (e.g. working independently, larger organisations ‘taking over’ smaller, specialist organisations etc.), in the long term we will see a diminished sector, both in terms of the number of organisations, specialisms, expertise and collective voice. We would ask larger organisations to be mindful of their ‘position’ in relation to other organisations (primarily in terms of funding, resources and capacity) and to seek a more collaborative strategy that will benefit the whole sector (and therefore different groups of women).
Thrashing out differences and expectations is a must before embarking on any kind of collaborative project. Professional, independent and strong facilitation can be sought here e.g. for joint visioning exercises. While this is imperative for formal partnership arrangements, it is also useful to bear in mind for other sorts of collaborative working e.g. local campaigning projects. For more information please contact our development team.
3. Building local knowledge
There may be existing networks, forums and partnerships in your area, which could be built upon rather than starting from scratch. If you are not involved already in a local women’s sector network, click on our membership map to see if there are any you can contact in your area as an important step towards building an increasingly collective voice at local level.
Many organisations will already be linked into various local networks and forums. It is worth having a discussion about how they will operate differently as a reaction to the changes in decision-making structures and funding and commissioning decisions.
4. Making a business case
These pages on WRC’s website have links to a number of documents that you may find useful when thinking about how to promote your specialist work to commissioners and funders.
The links here provide evidence of the need of VAWG services, as well as existing strategies that can be used as levers to build your case:
- Keeping it Legal: A guide for third sector organisations on public law and equality rights (November 2009). Explores how groups can use public law to challenge unfair decision making.
- Demonstrating the economic, social and environmental impacts of your work (Social Return on Investment)
- WRC's research into the importance of the women's voluntary and community sector.
- Facts and statistics on women's inequality in the UK
- Useful policy and research on violence against women and girls
- Women's organisations' expertise and experience mean they have valuable contributions to make to policy and public debates and responding to consultations can also be a way to raise awareness about the work you do. See WRC's responses to policy consultations for examples of how you can do this
Making the case for your work:
These resources can help you with supporting a case for your work with funders and government. They can be used as evidence and in lobbying work and should support the work you are already doing with other research and information.
These practical factsheets take you through some of the key ways in which you can make your organisation more financially stable.
We'll be adding more resources to this page over the next few months. Contact us with your suggestions for factsheets you'd like to see.
The Safer Future Communities Partnership, funded by the Home Office to ensure the voluntary and community sector are aware of and engaging with the changes happening with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, has commissioned some work you may find useful locally. You will be able to view statistics from each police force area pertaining to the Home Office priorities, one of which is violence against women and girls. This data can be used by you to make the case of prevalence of VAWG and that such services are needed. This information will be available shortly, and a link will be provided in due course.
Other useful publications that provide VAWG data broken down into regions are:
Other useful WRC publications are:
Case study: Women’s Strategic Services Network, Brighton
Follow the link for a summary of this successful partnership of four organisations in Brighton:
For more information about developing any of these issues further in your local area, please contact email@example.com
The purpose of this briefing is to help women’s organisations to identify ways in which they can get involved with new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). For more information on PCCs please click on this link: Safer Future Communities
In dealing with PCC's make use of the arguments for why women only services are important. Find out more here
Make sure you know who your Safer Future Communities (SFC) Network Co-ordinating organisation is and feed into their work.
The SFC Network Co-ordinating organisation will be building a relationship (as the ‘voice of the local VCS’) with the Transition Boards that are developing the draft Police and Crime Plan, commissioning models and budgets. It is important then that all VCS organisations, on top of any other activity they are planning, are linked into their area’s SFC Network as it will ensure a unified and stronger VCS voice, especially around issues of priority setting and commissioning frameworks. The input of the women’s sector will be particularly useful when the SFC Network proposes an outcomes framework, and business plan, to the Transition Board that will serve the interests of the VCS and their service users.
Women’s sector to meet with the SFC network co-ordinating organisation or attend their organising events, which should be publicised on their website.
This is an opportunity to ensure that the interests of violence against women and girls (VAWG) services are embedded in any work and lobbying that the Network does.
We think it’s important that it is not just individual VAWG organisations that do this. Rather, it will be a more effective and inclusive strategy if the women’s sector can speak with ‘one voice’ as much as possible. For increased collaboration between organisations, the following action will be necessary.
Organise meetings of VAWG organisations that cover the police force area. This could be through using existing networks and infrastructure such as the local domestic and sexual violence forums.
We recommend that these meetings are used to develop a strategy within and on behalf of the sector, which can then be taken forward and promoted within the work of the SFC Network, as well as directly with local media and stakeholders. It may be useful to think about developing the following:
- Start mapping the VAWG sector in your police force area to ensure all types of organisations, including specialist ones are taken into account and invited to participate.
- Key messages in order to clarify your position and your expectations.
- Start developing a local strategy- who to target; when to target them (our timeline may be useful); what areas to lobby and focus on; what lobbying tactics to use; the evidence to demonstrate social and economic benefit of specialist VAWG services; which organisations and stakeholders e.g. possible local champions should be involved; what extra support might you need (please feel free to contact WRC if you think we may be able to help with any support or resource needs you may have).
- Input into a national strategy to develop a suitable VAWG outcomes framework that works to the needs of women and girls affected by violence (WRC hopes that this will be developed by a national VAWG steering group, which would involve any interested VAWG organisations). In the meantime, it may be worth thinking about what evidence and frameworks may be useful to make your case.
- Discussion of whether you want to set up a more formal VAWG partnership, so that any PCC funding can be administered through it to all of the area’s VAWG organisations to deliver police-area wide VAWG services.
The following document from WRC may be helpful when thinking about setting up a network, forum or more formal partnership arrangement:
Please get in touch with our development team if you need support in setting up a more formal partnership with other organisations at: firstname.lastname@example.org
CASE STUDY: The Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) have been working with local women to develop a Women’s Forum, ‘Coventry Women’s Voices’ (CWV). Membership of CWV is free and open to women from women’s groups and organisations; voluntary or community groups with a particular focus on women’s issues or providing services to women; statutory services with a focus on services for women; business or business networks with an interest in improving the position of women; trade unions and individual women. Their aim is to work with people, organisations and agencies to improve the delivery of services to women from all backgrounds and communities in Coventry. CWV provides a network for women to come together, talk, share ideas, and develop good practice. They also provide expert advice and information about the actual and likely effect that policies and programmes will have on women. For more information go to:
Action: Write to your local PCC candidates
Labour candidates have pledged to prioritise violence against women and girls (VAWG) if they are elected. However, they have little knowledge (which is probably true of most of the candidates regardless of political party) of the women’s voluntary and community sector or that VAWG covers more than domestic and sexual violence (e.g. forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ killings, female genital mutilation, stalking, forced prostitution). They may also be unaware of their responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010). WRC have produced a template letter that organisations can send to their candidates which is available to download below.
Levers to use: useful policies and frameworks
Public Sector Equality Duty and specific duties
As a public body, PCCs and their offices are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which means they must pay ‘due regard’ to eliminate all forms of discrimination, harassment and victimisation that are prohibited by the Equality Act; advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it. The Police and Crime Plan that the PCC will produce will need to take these responsibilities into consideration.
In terms of trying to shape a more ‘intelligent’ commissioning model that does not exclude specialist, women-only organisations from bidding and winning contracts to provide services, it is worth promoting the Government Equality Office (GEO) guide for public bodies, which states that the Equality Duty “does not require public bodies to treat everyone the same. Rather, it requires public bodies to think about people’s different needs and how these can be met. So the PSED does not prevent public bodies providing women-only services – for example, for female victims of sexual violence or domestic violence. Indeed, such services may be necessary in order to ensure women have access to the services they need.”
You could also remind the Transition Board and the PCC that they are subject to the Equality Act and its Duties. It is a good idea to ask questions about how they intend to meet these responsibilities and how they assessed the ‘local’ evidence that determined their decisions. They can also be asked to provide information about how impacts on people who share a protected characteristic were considered, and how negative impacts will be addressed. Ultimately, it will be up to organisations like ours to hold PCCs to account in terms of their responsibilities with regards to equalities issues.
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011
This legislation sets out a flexible framework for partnership working between the Commissioner and their community safety and criminal justice partners. It includes two duties to facilitate cooperation (outlined at Section 10 of the Act) between the relevant partners working in community safety. The community safety duty specifies that a Commissioner must, in exercising its functions, have regard to the relevant priorities of the probation, health service, Local Authority, Police and Fire services. If violence against women and girls is a priority area for any of these (and in many cases it will appear), it will be another lever by which to ensure it is also a priority for the PCC.
The Act also requires Commissioners to consult with victims in setting policing priorities in their local area.
Existing local strategies
For example, the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) Strategy contains relevant ‘local, evidence-based’ information and priorities, determined by local engagement and partnership working that should overlap with the concerns of the PCC. While local authorities are no longer duty bound to have an LSP Board, some areas are still maintaining them as an effective way of bringing different agencies together to work on local priority issues. Even if they are not carrying on in the same form, the Strategy document may be useful as it should already have looked at evidence of local need and identified priority areas. If violence against women is mentioned in this document, there is local evidence that can be used as a lever with the PCC if they fail to consider violence against women services in their area.
The Protocol is a document produced by the Home Secretary under a power taken in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. It sets out how the new policing governance arrangements will work, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of Police and Crime Commissioners. This may be useful to ensure they are meeting their duties, particularly to victims of crime and improving community safety, into which categories violence against women services would fall. The protocol can be viewed here: The Policy Protocol Order 2011
Police and Crime Commissioners, What Partners Need To Know is a Home Office publication that sets out guidance on how PCCs should work collaboratively with local partners including the local authority, Health and Wellbeing Boards, and voluntary sector organisations that have expertise in working with victims. These intentions signal a standard for good practice which could be used to ensure effective engagement with the VAWG sector. Available below from the Home Office website.
As decisions become ever more decentralised, it will be of continued and increasing importance to engage with and build relationships at a local level. Local authorities will have increasing influence over the work of the women’s sector. Local politicians could raise the profile of women’s issues and promote the vital work of the women’s voluntary and community sector.
For more information please see our report on how to engage with the localism agenda refer to the links below:
The Safer Future Communities project was led by Clinks and funded by the Home Office between Autumn 2011 and March 2013 to support the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector to engage with and influence PCCs. The other partners were Council for Welsh Voluntary Youth Services, DrugScope, National Association of Voluntary and Community Action, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, and the Women’s Resource Centre.
SFC Network news
Safer Future Communities have produced a guide for police and crime commissioners and other local commissioners on commissioning from Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) providers. The guide aims to assist PCCs to create relationships locally with the VCSE Sector and to include them as partners in their mission to safeguard community safety and prevent crime by making their procurement processes accessible. It clearly explains that commissioning and procurement are not the only options – PCCs may choose to use grants as a means of funding the VCSE Sector too.
You may find the guide useful as a source of information on the commissioning process, as well as identifying PCC’s expectations of the VCSE sector. To see a copy of the guide please click here.
Safer Future Communities have undertaken an analysis of 39 police and crime plans across England and Wales (2 were unavailable and one was described as ‘interim’). The analysis focuses on a number of key issues:
- Violence against women and girls - Anti-social behaviour
- Substance misuse - Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities
- Victims - The Voluntary and Community Sector (as a delivery partner)
- Reducing Reoffending - The Voluntary and Community Sector (as a strategic partner)
- Young people (offenders) - Young people (victims)
These issues reflect both the Home Office community safety priorities, prior to the introduction of PCCs, and issues that have been identified through the Safer Future Communities project as being of importance to the VCSE Sector and their engagement with PCCs. The analysis provides a thematic overview comparing all 42 police and crime plans in relation to these issues. It aims to provide a national picture of how these issues are being prioritised and approached. It also provides a brief commentary to each local police and crime plan in relation to these issues and an ‘at a glance’ table showing which issues feature in which area’s plan. The Association of Police and Crime Commmissioners (APCC) have also produced an analysis of police and crime plans. While providing some information on these issues it focuses on other issues too and only provides a national overview, without any commentary on the issues or an indication of which PCCs, where, have made them a priority. In conjunction with the APCCs analysis we hope that this document will assist local and national VCSE Sector organisations in identifying areas for future influence.
It is important to note that the contents of the plans do not necessarily reflect all of the activity that has taken place in the respective police force areas they relate to or all of the PCCs initiatives. There may well be activity undertaken by PCC’s and their partners in addition to the content of the plans which have been important enough to receive some significant attention.
To see a copy of the SFC Police and Crime Plans Analysis 2013/14 please click here.
 The Safer Future Communities project was led by Clinks and funded by the Home Office between Autumn 2011 and March 2013 to support the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector to engage with and influence PCCs. The other partners were Council for Welsh Voluntary Youth Services, DrugScope, National Association of Voluntary and Community Action, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, and the Women’s Resource Centre.
Changes in the Commissioning Landscape: How they affect you, and what you can do
Over the past twelve months significant changes have been made to national and local commissioning structures with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and Welfare and Public Health Reforms. These changes will affect current and future funding programmes, as well as impacting on voluntary organisations’ ability to shape public services. As a result, it is very important that all women’s organisations are aware of the commissioning changes and take up related opportunities to get involved. We have produced a ‘How to’ guide on commissioning, outlining the changes caused by the introduction of PCCs and the reforms, and discussing ways in which the sector can engage and participate in the new agenda;
In this sector we have also included an earlier document: ‘A Guide to Commissioning and Procurement’ which provides useful technical information;