A strong joint voice from the funding sector means funders can more effectively direct their focus on the levers of change. London Funders plays a key role as an active advocate in this work, alongside some individual funders and agencies.
The Keep the Safety Net campaign brought together a coalition of funders and charities, led by the Cripplegate Foundation, London Funders and the Association of Charitable Organisations. The campaign responded to the cut-off in funding to local welfare assistance programmes, which were created to help the most destitute people with essentials after the former Social Fund was devolved to local authorities.
Kristina Glenn is the director of Cripplegate Foundation, who chaired the coalition. “The initial policy was to enable local authorities to provide local assistance programmes, which we thought made sense as the funding would be much more responsive to local need. But when we found out the funding was to be stopped all together, it spelled disaster. The loss of this support for the most destitute would have had massive implications - in the end costing far more as cases would have become more acute without this assistance. It was simply a short-sighted policy.”
London Funders brought together local authorities, whose links with service users provided powerful case studies. Local assistance funding - small amounts of money given for emergency essentials like mattresses, gas bills, or cookers - would never attract widespread popular attention, so the campaign instead focused on lobbying ministers and participating in consultations. With a judicial review brought by Child Poverty Action Group and Islington Council, it proved highly effective.
“Our coalition included independent groups and organisations from all parts of the UK, including trusts and foundations, faith groups and housing associations. We were very much the ‘unusual suspects’” says Kristina. “But our independence and London Funders’ ability to get such a range of parties into the conversation, meant we were listened to by some ministers, who pushed for a change of mind within government.”
It is thought the decision to consult again on the decision, and subsequent retention of £78m of funding for local assistance programmes, was the only time such a reverse was made by the coalition government. Crucially, it maintained the principle of a safety net, which had been under threat.
We launched the Vision for Young Londoners in summer 2015, and have since been working with partners to bring it to the attention of MPs and other policymakers. The mayoral candidates engaged with the vision and we are working to carrying it forward with strategic partners such as the GLA, the Mayor’s Office and London Councils. The resulting vision now has over 100 signatories including youth organisations and elected councillors.
Outcomes in which organisations work strategically
Outcomes where organisations support changes to systems and processes