Today the Early Action Funders Alliance has announced three new grants in its joint Early Action Neighbourhood Fund programme (EANF), totalling £5.3m over five years. One of the three recipients of the new grants is Coventry Law Centre, whose Ignite project, supported with £1.53m, aims to reduce demand on specialist public services, such as housing or children’s services.
This joint funding initiative was set up to strengthen the case for early action – frontloading work in order to prevent problems from escalating and being costlier to resolve. The Funders Alliance consists of the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Legal Education Foundation.
Law Centres use legal and other resources to alleviate poverty by tackling its root causes in disadvantage. They have long argued for early action as the best use of public resources, especially in circumstances of multiple and complex disadvantage, which draw the most on public resources.
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy and profile at the Law Centres Network, has said:
“At times of fiscal consolidation the smart money, nationally and locally, should be invested in early action to nip problems in the bud. When cuts push essential public services such as adult social care to the brink of collapse, there is a need to change local systems and structures to make the most of diminishing resources.
The National Audit Office tells us that central government is committed to the principle of early action but is hampered by political short-termism, lack of co-ordination and limited capacity to innovate. In civil legal aid, for example, cuts have meant that some people must let problems worsen needlessly in order to become eligible for help. This makes no sense.
Coventry Law Centre is well placed to advance the Early Action agenda, building on its recent success with local Troubled Families as well as with young migrants. We wish them and the EANF programme every success with this initiative, which could not come too soon.”