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.
Should funding application processes remain 'lighter touch' as was the case at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, or revert to a higher level of scrutiny as previously? - Please give reasons for your answer.
183 responses were analysed for this question, consisting of 111 responses by individuals and 72 by organisations. The organisations that answered this question included 7 local authorities/governments, 3 NHS organisations, 44 third sector organisations, and 18 classified as "other" or did not specify. There were five themes emerging from the qualitative analysis of the free-text responses to this question.
Theme 1: Quality of provision and accountability
The most common theme was the belief that a higher level of scrutiny is required in the funding application. Respondents in this theme believed that increased scrutiny would result in better quality of provision, accountability, and value for money for public funding. Others believed that scrutiny is required because VAWG services concern vulnerable groups, and as a result all organisations involved should be carefully vetted.
"revert to higher level of scrutiny - due diligence must be paid to providers as service users are particularly vulnerable." (Individual)
"There needs to be scrutiny for every application to ensure high quality services where the legislation is applied as it should be. Scrutiny must revert to a higher level to ensure value is being delivered from the public purse." (Individual)
Theme 2: Reduce paperwork and administrative burden
The second most frequently mentioned theme was concern about the level of paperwork required for the funding applications. Specifically, there was concern that a higher level of scrutiny would result in unmanageable administrative burden, especially for small third sector organisations with limited funding. Moreover, some answers highlighted that higher scrutiny would result in resources being diverted from service provision to administration, thus lowering the quality of services. Lastly, some respondents questioned whether there was actually a lighter touch approach during the pandemic.
"Feedback from specialist services has highlighted that recent funding processes felt unhelpful and numerous concerns were raised at the conflict the processes created between national and local organisations." (Local authority/ government)
"We support efforts to make funding application processes as accessible as possible. Whilst we understand the need for scrutiny of public funds, we must work to find a better balance for meeting public need and providing stability for vital third sector services which can often be victim to short-term and resource intensive funding cycles." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 3: Light touch with better monitoring
The third most prevalent theme was the need for a light touch approach combined with better monitoring. Respondents in this theme suggested a light touch approach on funding application processes, as this was believed to reduce administrative burden and facilitate appropriate funding for VAWG services. However, it was recognised that any services involving vulnerable groups and making use of public funds should be subject to robust and transparent monitoring and evaluation. Consequently, the responses in this theme suggested keeping the funding application process as during the pandemic but improve the monitoring requirements through collecting more accurate and useful information.
"The 'lighter touch' approach can and did work throughout the pandemic. What this approach conveyed was that 'less can be more' and that organisations could demonstrate impact through a range of various ways (rather than standard lengthy monitoring forms) e.g. case studies, feedback from families, professionals. However it is important that scrutiny takes place in respect of accountability. This can enable higher level of information sharing which may allow improved outcomes to be met in terms of funding for new services." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 4: Leverage existing relationships
The next most frequently emerging theme was the suggestion to leverage existing long-standing relationships with VAWG organisations. Specifically, respondents in this theme believed that there should be a light touch approach regarding providers that have been receiving funding for several years and have demonstrated quality services, while more scrutiny should be used for providers that are applying for the first time or do not have a good track record.
This theme was often combined with the need for light touch approach with improving monitoring. In particular, being in close contact with providers and better monitoring organisations that do not have a good track record will reduce low-quality services while keeping a low administrative burden for the rest.
"Lighter touch for well established services, and heavy scrutiny for first time applicants or services branching out into a new area." (Individual)
"The knowledge and evidence based on VAWG is already well established; Organisations have already submitted numerous applications which suggest a track record which should be taken into account.; […] The relationship between funder and organisation should be collaborative and based on mutual respect, resource sharing and open dialogue." (Third sector organisation)
Theme 5: Application assistance
The last prevalent theme was the need for assistance in the funding application process. Respondents believed that the current process creates significant administrative burden and more should be done to facilitate this process for organisations. This could be achieved, for example, with clear guidelines about the application.
"The funding application process should be appropriately robust for the purposes of credibility and governance. Such processes should be accompanied by clear guidelines for completion, and as articulated in question 13, should provide detail on the strategic aims to be delivered and the information and data requirements to be provided for assurance." (Organisation)
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