On the day the legal aid bill has its second reading in the House of Lords, there is finally some detail on the £20 million announced during the Commons stages of the bill.
The Cabinet Office has announced £16.8million to help fund the advice sector in England (the balance going to the devolved administrators, who do not seem to have made any announcements yet).
The fund will be administered by the Big Lottery, and will support housing, debt, welfare benefits and employment advice services. Each grant will be for service delivery and be between £40,000 and £70,000. To qualify, organisations must show that they provide advice in at least one of those areas and have suffered a cut of least 10% in central or local government funding in the financial year 2011-12. More details of the exact criteria will follow when applications open before the end of the month.
There is also to be a review of the future of the advice sector, concluding early next year, though there has as yet been no further detail on that.
£17million, while welcome, is a small amount compared to the cuts social welfare advice providers are facing; scope cuts, of course, will not take effect until the next financial year.
Meanwhile, the House of Lords debate on second reading can be seen here; how much reliance will ministers place on this new fund to try to placate opposition?