The member organisations of Women’s Breakout do fantastic work in providing gender specific, community based, holistic services for women who present with vulnerabilities and complex needs. They have skilled and experienced workers, they are grounded in a clear understanding of what works for women, they deliver outstanding results – and they draw in resources that bring great benefit to the communities in which they are situated. They make a real difference in the lives of the women they reach, and those women often make a difference in the lives of their families and communities. This is true transformation.
Every year Women’s Breakout undertakes a survey of our member organisations to get their response to 10 key questions which give us an insight into what is going on in respect of their funding and the services that they provide for women in the criminal justice system. We have 57 member organisations and this year 30 of those organisations have completed our survey.
In 2015/16, a total of £20,185,754 was received by these 30 organisations for their work with vulnerable women, from the following sources:
This funding picture has become increasingly important in the context of Transforming Rehabilitation, where we find some of the most disadvantaged and neglected women in society ie those in the criminal justice system. While we have seen an overall increase in the total funding to our members from CRCs for work with women who have offended, this does not tell the true story of what is happening to women who are impacted by the criminal justice system. Alongside this increase in total funding, we have also seen a significant increase in the numbers of women to be supported from this budget and the geographical reach of the service. This has meant that the spending per head by CRCs on women who have offended has decreased and typically the service that is now being commissioned by CRCs is group work and mentoring and not the holistic service that we know works with women. Where the holistic service is still being delivered there is a heavy reliance on the organisation to find additional resources.
And what about the impact on individual organisations? After the first year, fifteen of our members are receiving higher value contracts from their CRCs compared to those received before Transforming Rehabilitation was introduced (but with a lower fee per woman than previously), but fourteen organisations are receiving lower value contracts from their CRCs, and at least five organizations are no longer delivering their services under CRC contracts. At a recent evidence session for the Public Accounts Committee (4 July) that is looking at the National Audit Office Report on the transforming rehabilitation programme, Richard Heaton from the MoJ confirmed that: ‘……on the key measure of whether these contracts improve reoffending, we will see good-quality data on that during 2017 and not before. There are all sorts of measures about early successes and compliance and so on, but on the key thing we are all interested in, 2017 is the date to look for.’
One has to ask the question – when we know the impact of TR on female offenders how many of the expert service providers that were previously delivering services will still be there?
Jackie Russell, Director of Women’s Breakout