Report of the Managing Director of BHE
The Committee considered a report of the Managing Director of BHE requesting funding of £5m to be awarded to London Legal Support Trust (LLST) [charity no: 1101906] over five years towards onward grant making under the Advice Skills Development Fund (ASDF) (approximately £4.2m of the £5m), and towards the process of co-designing a funding programme, including overall administration costs of both activities (co-design and onward grant making) (approximately £800k of the £5m). The Committee noted that the grant, if endorsed, would be referred to the BHE Board for approval. The Managing Director of BHE introduced the report and presented the proposal to the Committee.
In response to a question from the Chair, the Managing Director of BHE advised that legal support was not a statutory provision for local authorities except in respect of some care and homelessness related provisions, and average provision had declined in recent years in line with increasing budgetary constraints. The Managing Director of BHE confirmed that grant funding would not be replacing statutory funding, and this grant would be used towards remediating the skills gap within the sector with a view to making it more sustainable. Members commented that the replacement of funding previously provided by local or central government was of some concern, but noted that the proposals related to a vital part of the sector. The Managing Director of BHE then outlined how the grant would be used towards the ability to quantify outcomes and measure the quality of delivery.
A Member noted that 16% of the grant was designated for administrative costs, and suggested increasing the overall allocation to £6 million, with any underspend to be returned if necessary. The Managing Director of BHE advised that there was no administrative barrier, or immediately risks, to increasing the overall grant, adding that £5 million was the minimum amount required to achieve the desired impact, with it hoped that a grant from CBT would leverage further funding. The Managing Director of BHE confirmed that there was no risk of the funding being lost, and that officers could take the suggestion of a larger grant away to be assessed, as there was sufficient budget in place to consider it.
The Managing Director of BHE advised that the Committee could agree to recommend the £5 million as a minimum level of funding, and instruct officers to assess the implications of agreeing a larger overall grant ahead of the BHE Board’s consideration of the matter. The Chair endorsed this suggestion, and proposed that the Committee agree to recommend the grant to the BHE Board with a minimum allocation of £5 million, with authority delegated to the Chair and Deputy Chair to consider the recommendation of additional funding to the BHE Board once this had been assessed, and this was agreed.
RESOLVED – That the Grants Committee of the BHE Board:
i) Endorse to the BHE Board a grant of at least £5m over five years, as an Alliance Partnership, to London Legal Support Trust [charity no: 1101906] for running costs and onward grant making as part of the Advice Skills Development Fund; and
ii) Delegate authority to the Chair and Deputy Chair, to consider the recommendation to the BHE Board of any additional funding above £5 million, should this be supported by officers.