Making funding work for people facing multiple disadvantage

January 12, 2022

MEAM has published Making funding work for people facing multiple disadvantage. The report outlines the way in which national funding streams are made available to local areas to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice.

It finds that while such funding streams are important and welcome, in many cases they are not helping local areas to create long-term changes to the way that services and systems work for people facing multiple disadvantage, or to address the underlying problems that cause people to experience the issues that the funding streams seek to address

The report draws on the experiences of areas across the MEAM Approach and Fulfilling Lives networks, with research conducted by experts by experience and the MEAM policy team.

The report includes the following key findings:

  • Many local areas responded positively about the amount of resource that has been made available from central government over the last 18 months. There has been increased investment in many local areas and unique opportunities have been presented by the wide variety of funding pots, allowing areas to start plugging long-standing gaps in service provision.
  • Processes such as competitive bidding can constrain local areas from making funding applications for ambitious, transformational and focussed work for individuals experiencing multiple disadvantage.
  • The specific focus of some funding streams does not provide local areas with the flexibility needed to support people experiencing multiple disadvantage or to focus on systemic change.
  • There is a variation in the level of coordination between national funding programmes, which can lead to duplication in local service provision and missed opportunities to develop a more coordinated, system-wide approach.
  • Local areas are working under constrained timescales to apply for funding, and cannot always coordinate the right people to develop applications for funding that could address wider system issues.
  • The nature of short-term funding present challenges around procuring the right services for people, recruiting the best staff, and creates uncertainty towards the year-end.
  • There are gaps in provision for specific groups including women and black and racially minoritised groups.
  • The majority of funding streams do not offer specific support for local systems change

We know that civil servants are aware of many of the issues identified in this briefing and that many are taking practical steps to address them. However, they are also constrained, like all of us within the system, by silo working, departmental structures and systemic barriers.

Later this year we hope to speak to a range of government officials about their experiences and perspectives, hosting a roundtable to explore the issues covered in this briefing in more detail, and create a set of policy and practice recommendations that can help funding to have an optimal impact on people facing multiple disadvantage.

If you would like to participate in future engagement on this subject, or request further information about this briefing please contact:

You can download the full report here.