Violence against women and girls funding review: analysis of responses
Analysis of the responses to the Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of Violence Against Women and Girls Services call for evidence.
Questions 13.1 and 13.2
For services receiving funding, what would be the optimum length of funding period to ensure they are able to continue to provide services effectively for women, children and young people experiencing violence against women and girls? Please give reasons for your answer.
The most popular optimum length of funding among all respondents was 5-years (34%), with a small margin over the 10-years length (31%). Only 8% of all respondents selected the 3-years length, while 27% selected "other" and specified a length of their choosing.
Among organisational respondents, 58% selected 5 years as the optimum length and 30% chose 10 years. A third of the individual respondents (34%) proposed their own through the "other" option and the majority of them stated that funding should be continuous. Finally, the 10-years length was selected by 32% of individual respondents and 24% selected 5-year.
The free-text part of this question comprised 171 responses, consisting of 101 responses by individuals and 70 by organisations. The organisations that answered this question included 7 local authorities/governments, 3 NHS organisations, 42 third sector organisations, and 18 classified as "other" or did not specify. There were nine themes emerging from the qualitative analysis of the free-text responses to this question.
Theme 1: Reasons listed to support 5 years funding length
Respondents preferring a 5-year period stated that it allows organisations to create long-term plans that create meaningful changes in attitudes, behaviours, and services. Some respondents believe that this length is ideal for designing, promoting, and delivering innovative, and effective services that create value for users. The third most frequently cited reason for choosing this length was its impact on recruitment and retention of VAWG workforce since it would allow organisations to invest in training and education of their workforce, while also having the appropriate funds to attract and retain the most talented professionals. Lastly, a 5-year length was believed to be appropriate for monitoring and evaluating performance of services, in order to assess whether the funding has contributed to the quality and quantity of services.
Some respondents highlighted that 5 years is a middle solution between a 3-year period- which would be too short to create meaningful changes- and a 10-year period- which would be too inflexible to adapt to a continuously changing landscape and inflation.
"A 5-year funding cycle would be most appropriate as it allows time for services to involve those with lived experience in service design, policy development, campaign work etc. in a meaningful timeframe […]. In shorter funding cycles, it can be difficult to measure the impact of work, particularly prevention focused work. Having a 5-year funding cycle would allow time for services to track impact, changes in attitudes, changes in behaviour etc resulting from prevention interventions. Another benefit of a 5-year funding cycle would be increased job security for staff working in VAWG services; ensuring those with the relevant skills and experience can remain in the sector." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 2: Reasons listed to support 10 years funding length
The most frequent reason to choose a 10-year funding length was regarding recruitment and retention. In particular, respondents believed that workers would be incentivised to choose VAWG services as a career path if there was security in funding and investment in training, which would be provided in a 10-year funding period. The second most frequently used explanation was that the quality and scope of planning is proportional to the length of the funding period. As a result, the longer the funding period, the better and more extensive the planning could be. However, some respondents recognised the need for monitoring and evaluation to ensure an appropriate level of services and an efficient use of funding. A few respondents proposed funding to be conditional on annual reviews of performance.
"There can still be accountability with SLAs, terms and conditions, regular reporting and reviews. Longer term funding would allow extra monitoring and the implementation of improvement plans where issues arise but have the potential to be solved given a bit of time and effort - that's really difficult with funding deadlines looming. Longer funding terms also support better partnership and collaboration work - it's hard for any centralised databases of services to be kept up to date when services pop in and out of existence quite frequently." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 3: Reasons listed to support other funding length
The third most frequently selected funding length was none of the provided options, as respondents opted for specifying their own preferred length. In almost all cases that respondents proposed a length of their choosing, they advocated for perpetual funding. The vast majority of respondents in this sub-theme believed that VAWG is a continuous problem that has existed for many years, it has been exacerbated in recent years, and will continue to exist in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, respondents stated that a perpetual problem cannot be solved by short-term solutions, consequently the funding should be continuous until VAWG has been eradicated. A less common justification for continuous funding was that organisations waste significant resources and time in preparing and applying for funding every few years, instead of devoting these to their service users.
"There is never been a time in the past or current times when VAWG has not been endemic in society and as it's getting worse and not better, its reasonable to conclude that they will be even more essential in the future." (Individual)
"To change a deep-rooted idea in a society takes many, many years, so the problem will persist for decades if not longer. Hence the funding should remain for the foreseeable future." (Individual)
"For years we have lurched from one funding redirection to another. this coupled with external threats and cuts has made it impossible to fully utilize our potential to grow and develop. Sustainable and secured funding would allow us to focus on the work, invest in innovation and fully focus on the needs of our service users." (Third sector organisation).
Theme 4: Reasons listed to support 3 years funding length
The funding length most seldomly selected was that of 3 years. Respondents in this theme supported a funding length of 3-years as they believed this is the optimal length for accurate monitoring and consistent evaluation. Some respondents also proposed annual reviews, to further guarantee that progress is being made and adapt the level of funding to the changing needs.
"Three years allows services to run and review service need, allowing for increase of funding/service provision for the next 3-year cycle where necessary. If the need for the service drops, existing staff can support organisations in areas where need has increased." (Individual)
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