Advice Services Transition Fund
A national Big Lottery funding programme has invested a total £65 million across the country - the Advice Service Transition Fund (ASTF). The funding was informed by a review of the not-for-profit advice sector commissioned by the Cabinet Office which found that the key challenges for the sector were:
- Management of crisis situations
- Lack of consistent standards or frameworks across advice providers
- Assumption that face to face is the most effective way of delivering advice.
- Too much reliance on funding from the public sector
Advice services in Norfolk were awarded a total of nearly £2 million from this fund in May 2013. Partnerships based in six (out of seven) districts in the county have taken a share of the funding which has been provided by the Big Lottery Fund and the Cabinet Office.
The purpose of the fund is to help advice services to:
- Adapt to the new environment being brought about by welfare reforms and ongoing economic uncertainty, coupled with reduced supply owing to legal aid cuts.
- Achieve more through collaboration, early intervention and exploitation of remote channels.
- Deliver high-quality services that are sustainable in an environment of reduced funding.
Each partnership is undertaking two year projects that range from supporting local champions in providing advice and information in communities, to developing a local 'one-stop-shop' hub of advice services. These projects should help ensure that advice organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureaux are able to keep their doors open and become more sustainable in the long term.
The advice agencies involved in the partnerships are working with the Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) to ensure the funding is used as effectively as possible and that the projects link in with other advice provision in the county. NCAN is also working with the partners to support inter-agency referral processes through its Common Referral System, and in developing frameworks for measuring outcomes.