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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vulnerable-children-national-charities-strategic-relief-fund/vulnerable-children-national-charities-strategic-relief-fund-prospectus
On 8 April 2020, the government announced a package of £750M of support for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Funding has been allocated to the Department for Education and the Home Office in order to support charities working to safeguard vulnerable children.
Overall aim of funding:
Keeping vulnerable children safe during coronavirus (COVID-19) is our urgent priority. The Vulnerable Children National Charities Strategic Relief Fund is to provide relief to national children’s charities that provide services to safeguard vulnerable children and that have financially suffered due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). The £7.6m fund is aimed at large, national VCSEs and fits alongside a range of government and other support, including the National Lottery coronavirus (COVID-19) community fund which supports small and medium-sized VCSEs.
As a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact, many of these risks to vulnerable young people will have been heightened. In recognition of this heightened risk, this funding aims to ensure national charities can continue to provide or enhance services that safeguard children and protect them from harm, including from risks and threats:
- from child sexual exploitation and abuse
- serious violence
- criminal exploitation (including county lines)
- peer/relationship abuse
- online harm and substance abuse
Charities may also support children and young people at higher risk of becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET), disengaging from education and experiencing wider wellbeing issues.
In order to apply for funding, VCSE organisations need to demonstrate that:
- they are a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation or social enterprise; this includes companies limited by guarantee and community interest companies
- their purpose includes provision of services that safeguard vulnerable children, as defined in the government guidance, and they continue to provide these services safely over the period of the funding (until 31 October 2020)
- they offer services nationally, i.e. would intend to use the funding to provide direct services in multiple regions throughout England and / or Wales and thus form a strategic part of the national vulnerable children’s VCSE sector
- their usual annual income is greater than £40m and are in financial distress as a result of:
- a reduction in income due to coronavirus (COVID-19), placing the organisation’s work with vulnerable children; or
- an increase in workload due to coronavirus (COVID-19), which includes either increased demand on an existing service or increased costs or resource burden to adapt services in order to safeguard children during coronavirus (COVID-19). For example, adapting the service due to requirement for social distancing or other coronavirus (COVID-19) issues, such as schools and other key locations being closed
- the organisation has not received relief for the same purpose through any other mechanism (details of any other relief received covering the period 1 April to 31 October 2020 must be listed)1
- need cannot be met through existing coronavirus (COVID-19) measures (for example furloughing of staff)
- they were not in financial distress prior to 31st December 2019
General conditions of funding
The fund is for spend incurred no later than 31 October 2020, to cope with any financial distress owing to a loss of income or rise in demand/workload/need to adapt due to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example, funding may be used to:
- address short-term income disruption, only insofar as spend meets the needs of safeguarding vulnerable children as set out above
- meet essential costs of sustaining current activities, such as the purchasing of assets to support the move to remote and digital working, and additional staff to cover those unable to work for reasons related to the pandemic
- address increased demand
- provide short-term contracts for additional staff up to 31 October 2020
- meet additional staffing costs for existing employees (for example overtime or increased hours, subject to working time regulations), up to 31 October 2020
Applicants should be aware that the minimum request for funding is £1 million and the maximum request for funding is £3.8 million for the term 1 April to 31 October 2020.
Organisations must not use this funding for the development of new projects or services. Funding can be used to address costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures from 1 April 2020. Any spend to which organisations commit beyond 31 October 2020 will not be met by this fund.
Support must be prioritised on immediate needs, specifically the risk of temporary or permanent closure of the organisation as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or an inability to deliver services. Support cannot be used to cover capital expenditure.
Please note that the Department for Education and the Home Office are working with other government departments, sharing relevant data to prevent fraud and duplication of funding. This does not restrict services applying separately to other coronavirus (COVID-19) support packages for different aspects of their service, but any funding applied for or obtained from such funds will need to be declared.
Applications will have to comply with managing public money guidelines.
If your proposal applies to England only, grants will be administered by Department for Education, those proposals covering both England and Wales or Wales only will be grants administered by the Home Office. Grants will be awarded under statute(s) relevant to the proposal’s objectives.
How to apply
The fund was launched on 10 June 2020. Applicants are required to submit applications no later than midday on 24 June 2020 to:
Applicants must include a:
- completed application form
- completed leadership support form
- link to or attachment of financial accounts for the last two financial years
- current cash flow statement
- cash flow forecast through to 31 October 2020
Please include all (but only) the above documents. Any other documents, forms or annexes will not be reviewed.
The Department for Education will not assess submissions received after application have closed. Any submissions that do not include all required documents will not be assessed.
An individual must be nominated for contact purposes. Please provide a telephone number and work e-mail address in the application form.
Applicants may seek clarifications from the Department for Education about any aspects of this prospectus by submitting an applicant clarification. The deadline for submitting applicant clarifications is midday on 16 June 2020, we will not accept any subsequent requests.
Applicant clarifications should be e-mailed to ChildrensVCSE.COVID19fund@education.gov.uk inserting “Applicant Clarification –Applicant Name” in the subject title. Please identify the section of this prospectus to which your applicant clarification refers, but please note that we cannot acknowledge your clarification. The Department for Education aims to present responses by midday on 18 June 2020 at Vulnerable Children National Charities Strategic Relief Fund.
To ensure that the competition is open, fair and transparent to all applicants, neither the Department for Education or Home Office will discuss this opportunity outside of this clarification process, and phone calls will not be permitted.
There will be one application round to allocate funding of up to £7.6 million.
The indicative timetable is set out below:
- 10 June 2020: application documents issued, application period opens
- 16 June 2020 (midday): applicant clarification period closes
- 18 June 2020 (midday): Department for Education aim to publish response to clarifications
- 24 June 2020 (midday): application period closes
- 24 June 2020 to 8 July 2020: compliance checks, due diligence, assessment and evaluation
- from 8 July 2020: response to successful applicants
- 14 July 2020: grant agreements finalised
The Department for Education will endeavour to keep interested parties up to date if there is any delay to the intended timetable.
The Department for Education will keep all applications confidential and will not share them beyond those staff in the Department of Education and other relevant government departments who have a business need to see them.
The Department for Education or Home Office may request further financial information later in the process to seek clarification or enable the transfer of funds to successful applicants. Applicants must ensure that they do not do anything which would constitute a breach of the Bribery Act 2010.
Applications which meet all eligibility criteria will be assessed against the following four criteria. Applications must pass all four criteria to qualify for funding. The application form is marked to show which questions address specific assessment criteria.
1. Financial stress
Applications must evidence that they meet the financial distress test, through submission of a link to or attachment showing their last two years of financial accounts (prepared in accordance with Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice), as well as their current cash flow statement and their cash flow forecast through to 31 October 2020. Organisations that meet any of the following three criteria will be deemed to pass this test:
- they are forecasted to move into a negative cash position by 31 October 2020
- they would be unable to meet monthly payroll on or before 31 October 2020
- the organisation’s forecast free reserves on 31 October 2020 is below its free reserves minimum policy
2. Evidence of need
Applicants are asked to evidence the impact of not receiving funding on the organisation and its work with vulnerable children. This need will be assessed as follows:
0 – No impact: the organisation and its work with vulnerable children would continue without any impact.
1 – Minimal impact: the response clearly fails to meet a number of the criteria of the fund. Inadequate or no supporting evidence has been provided to support the response.
2 – Marginal impact: the response shows that the organisation would suffer a reduction in services offered to children during coronavirus (COVID-19), this would only impact a small proportion of the children the charity serves and may be constrained to one locality, rather than nationwide.
3 – Significant impact: the response shows a large impact on the organisation’s services to vulnerable children. This could constitute the closure of some local services or a material curtailment of availability for national services.
4 – Severe impact: the organisation will close or pause a large part of its operations focused on vulnerable children; it will create a nationwide gap in provision for children at risk. The organisation will make redundancies or furloughing (under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) of key frontline employees working with vulnerable children.
5 – Catastrophic impact: the organisation will cease to operate on temporary basis and permanently withdraw some services – there are likely to be widespread furloughing (under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) or redundancies of key frontline workers and a gap in service provision impacting vulnerable children across England and Wales. The organisation may not be able to recover services quickly once the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is over.
Applications that receive a score of 3 or above will pass this criteria.
3. Outputs and outcomes
Applications must demonstrate that the proposal will be effective in enabling the organisation to keep relevant safeguarding services operating for vulnerable children and/or to meet the extra demand on the service, as identified within the application form.
Outputs and outcomes will be scored against the criteria below. To pass, applicants must score 3 or more in this assessment.
0: no response or the response does not meet required criteria.
1 – Very poor: the response clearly fails to meet a number of the criteria of the fund. Inadequate or no supporting evidence has been provided to support the response.
2 – Poor: the response only satisfies some of the aims of the fund. Some evidence is provided to support the response, however this is lacking in sufficient detail in one or more areas.
3 – Satisfactory: a score of 3 will again address the majority of the fund aims but will lack some clarity or detail in how the outputs will produce claimed outcomes. Evidence provided while giving generic or general statements is not specifically directed toward the aims of the fund. Any omission of key information will point towards a score of 3.
4 – Good: a score of 4 will reflect that applicants will have addressed, in some detail, all or the majority of requirements as stated in the fund aims. Evidence will have been provided to show not only what will be provided but will give evidence strong outcomes. Applicants should make clear how their outputs and outcomes relate directly to the aims of the fund and be specific, rather than general, in how they address the fund aims.
5 – Excellent: a score of 5 will reflect that applicant as well as addressing all, or the vast majority, of requirements will demonstrate a deep understanding of the fund aims. All information offered is linked directly to fund requirements and clearly shows a substantial positive impact to vulnerable children.
4. Value for money
The government is required to ensure that funding delivers value for money (VfM) – applications must demonstrate how the funding being requested will meet the demand and pressures on their service and deliver against the fund purpose. They must also confirm that they have appropriate governance and procurement procedures in place to ensure VfM across their organisation.
Applications that do not provide evidence of this will fail this criteria.
The assessment and funding process
All applications that meet the fund eligibility criteria and receive a pass score for all four of the above assessment criteria are eligible for funding. Applications that receive fewer than four pass marks will not be offered any funding.
- the available budget for the fund is £7.6 million. The Department for Education and the Home Office will award grants to successful applicants in order of precedence from highest score to lowest score up to the budget of £7.6 million. Grants may be awarded in full, or alternatively, awarded in part
- the highest scored application will be awarded a full award for their requested funding (up to the £3.8 million limit). Dependent on remaining funds from the residual budget, the next highest scoring applicant will be awarded either a full award or a partial award. In the instance of tied scores, the applicant scoring highest in need will be prioritised. Where this is still a tie, the applicant with the largest percentage drop in income since 24 March 2020 will be prioritised. The awarding of grants will proceed on this basis until there are no further funds available. The below table provides an example
- adjustments to the fund attribution may be required in order to meet the requirement for the fund to attribute at least £4 million to activities in England. In this instance any changes will align as closely to this process as possible
Example award table:
|Applicant||Evidence of needs score||Outputs & outcomes score||Percentage income drop||Requested funding||Award type||Remaining budget|
|A||5||4||15||£2.2 million||Full award: £2.2 million||£5.4 million|
|B||4||3||17||£3.7 million||Full award: £3.7 million||£1.7 million|
|C||3||3||22||£1.2 million||Full award: £1.2 million||£0.5 million|
|D||3||3||20||£1 million||Partial award: £0.5 million||nil|
|E||3||3||7||£2 million||No award (but may receive a partial award if ‘D’ declines)||-|
- in the above example applicants A, B, and C, all receive full awards leaving £500,000 of available funding remaining. As applicant D’s request was for £1,000,000, they receive only a partial award utilising the final remaining funds
- the total funding budget available for this programme shall not be increased beyond the original £7.6 million
Applications will be assessed by an assessment board comprised of Department of Education and Home Office officials.
Arrangements for payments to successful applicants will be determined in the coming weeks.
Release of funds cannot take place before the grant agreement has been signed by both parties. Due diligence checks will be undertaken to validate client eligibility, including sharing key application details with other crown bodies. In the event that fraudulent activity is identified the Department for Education or Home Office will take appropriate investigatory and legal action.
The grant amount and any eligible expenditure claimed are inclusive of all VAT chargeable.
The government is responsible for the expenditure of public funds. Please note that if your application is successful, the Department for Education or Home Office will mandate a report on the outcomes of this grant funding at agreed intervals and / or once the grant period ends. Any underspends will need to be reported (grant funding received for money not assigned to the grant agreement shall be returned to the Department for Education or the Home Office). Successful organisations will be required to provide independent assurance of their grant spend. These will be conditions of the grant agreement.
The Department for Education and the Home Office reserve the right to withdraw this grant fund and choose not to award grants to any organisation.
This would not include funding from departments to mobilise new programmes or services. ↩