News: State of the Sector
Last week as I was invited by Barrow Cadbury Trust to be part of a select group of VCSE reps to attend a roundtable a No.10 with Charlotte Lawson, special advisor to Theresa May on the third sector/government relations team. Apparently she was keen to meet real VCSE people and get a sense of innovation in the sector and is particularly interested in organisations at the smaller, more local end of the scale.
Yesterday's Budget appeared to be one focussing on caution in an uncertain pre-Brexit economy. The overall context for charities remaining one of austerity well into the next parliament, with a further £3.5bn of government departmental cuts due to be announced later in the year.
The NCVO Annual Conference last week felt like a rallying cry for the sector, two days after the announcement of a snap general election with a strong message from Sir Stuart Etherington NCVO CEO about being bold in these rapidly changing and uncertain times. He talked about the need for bold leadership now more than ever in a Brexit dominated landscape and in the aftermath of the ‘divisive and ugly referendum campaign’ that exploited fears and social tensions, amplifying and igniting them.
The latest Third Sector Trends Study 2016 provides a picture of the state of the voluntary sector in North East England and Cumbria over 10 years.
Whilst it is encouraging that the majority of organisations have demonstrated a relatively stable income over the last two years we also see evidence of extremes: 14% of organisations reported substantially rising income and 18% reported their income fell significantly.
As we look back on the demise of Northern Rock ten years ago it’s worth remembering steps could be taken now to continue the good work done by the Northern Rock Foundation for the VCSE sector – and the communities - of the North East and Cumbria.
It is disappointing to say the least that having been assured by Cabinet Office Minister Chris Skidmore that the Government is pro-charity and keen to involve the sector in the democratic process we now learn that the Government will not be implementing any of the conservative peer Lord Hodgson’s recommended reforms of the Lobbying Act, r
This guest post from Cullagh Warnock has been adapted from an original presentation given at a seminar - Navigating Commissioners’ Criteria for Public Funding: opportunities for partnership not competition - at Sunderland University in March 2017 and is available in full via the North East End Violence Against Women and Girls (NEEVAWG) website.
Cullagh Warnock is a freelance consultant working with grant-makers and the VCS.
This guest post is from Jack Hunter, Research Fellow at IPPR North. It originally appeared on the IPPR blog.
A new year traditionally offers the chance for radical renewal and a change of approach. But, as the Prime Minister’s botched reshuffle shows, the status quo can be surprisingly hard to shift.
The results are in on our 8th annual VCSE sector survey ’Surviving or Thriving’ and the most significant factor in this year’s survey is no surprise - increased demand for services alongside increases in the number of people organisations are supporting. A significant 72% have had an increase in the numbers of beneficiaries, no doubt down to the impact of cuts to local authority budgets and services, welfare reform and increases in those living in poverty and debt.
Last week I attended 2 events with a focus on voluntary social action which is very much on national and local government agenda given the current climate of austerity and reductions in public funding for public services. At local and national government level there is an increasing focus on social action and volunteering, in that it may provide an alternative mechanism for delivery of public services.
The announcement of the government’s intention to introduce an ‘anti-influencing’ clause to be inserted into both new and renewed grant agreements not only flies in the face of Compact principles the government have signed up to, but challenges a key role of the voluntary sector.
The Compact, signed by David Cameron in 2010, sets out the government’s commitment to working effectively with the voluntary and community sector. A key principle is for government to:
Big Lottery Fund raid called off
The good news for many voluntary organisations is that the expected £300m raid on BLF’s funding didn’t happen. Instead the chancellor and prime minister both spoke about the importance of maintaining BLF funding for community organisations, as well as protecting current levels of investment in the arts, sports and heritage sectors. NCVO are to thank for quickly organising a campaign to lobby MPs using a data tool to show the potential of cuts in their areas.
Tax credits u-turn
Guest blog - Mike Rohan, Sage
Bio: Mike Rohan is the Business Development Manager for Sage and is co-chair of ‘Friends of Auto Enrolment’ in the North East. The Friends of AE (founded by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals) seeks to help employers meet their new duties through co-operation and education.
The latest report from the Northern Rock Foundation Third Sector Trends Study provides a digest of findings on the state of the third sector in the North East. It began as a longitudinal study in 2008 and has continued to review progress since then.
As an ex Chief Officer of Darlington CVS, now Evolution, I was dismayed to hear that Darlington Borough Council have decided not to continue to resource Evolution, the local support organisation (CVS) for Darlington charities and community groups, which has since announced it will now close this summer. Instead they feel the Council can offer some of the core infrastructure support functions in-house and are putting a small contract out to support volunteering.
By Jo Curry (former Chief Executive of VONNE)
Following the news that Virgin Money is to float and the so called “bad bank” part of Northern Rock is returning a profit, VONNE wrote to the new Minister for Civil Society and to the Treasury setting out why it is right and fair that the VCSE in the North East should reap some of the benefit from the surpluses. I will provide you with some background to this:
VONNE are pleased that last week, the Chancellor announced £4m of Government funding for the Virgin Money Foundation to support charitable projects in the North East. As VONNE regulars will know we have been lobbying the Chancellor to step in following the expected closure of Northern Rock Foundation, the cuts in public sector funding and the impact that this is having on the sector in the North East.
In his letter to VONNE, George Osborne makes an explicit pledge that this money is for charitable activity in the North East of England.
In the new year 2D will be absorbed by Groundwork NE & Cumbria, following the decision of directors and trustees of 2D (read their press release).
Michele Armstrong, Chief Executive of 2D has written a guest blog for us to explain the thinking behind the decision and why she is proud of the pro-active approach taken.
Kate Culverhouse and Michelle Armstrong