Government probation reform led to 50 per cent drop in charity grant funding, says report

18 Jun 2019 News

The government’s most recent overhaul of the probation system may have led to a 50 per cent drop in grants from independent funders, according to a new report.

Charity sector thinktank, NPC's new report, Independent, Effective, Humane, shows that independent grant funding for probation charities dropped from £37.1m to £18.4m from 2013 to 2014, the same time as the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme was introduced.

The report says the figures suggest “funders may respond directly to policy upheaval—by pausing their funding”.

It says grant funding levels have since recovered but warns: “With renewed uncertainty about the future of probation services in 2019, charities need commitment and stability from funders.”

The report says charities that are involved in probation services are heavily reliant on independent grants, with smaller, specialist organisations getting about two-thirds of their funding this way.

It says this is because the public “don’t often give to criminal justice charities” and the government is increasingly funding through contracts instead.

And the report says probation charities are concerned that independent funders are being put off funding probation services because they are worried “their grants are propping up a harmful prison system”.

It says they are also concerned about charities ability to access service users in prison, and the risk of subsidising government contracts or private sector profits.

An anonymous grant-making trust is quoted in the report as saying: “We have moved away from funding work in prison to work in the community with people who are at risk of offending or reoffending.

“When we do due diligence, charities say that our grant might subsidise government contracts. We understand how hard it is for charities—they are between a rock and a hard place—but it just isn’t acceptable to our trustees.”

Following a highly critical report on the government’s £900m Transforming Rehabilitation programme by the chief inspector of probation last year, the Ministry of Justice announced its decision to end current probation contracts early and consider a new model for probation from 2020 onwards.

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