Danny Kruger MP has been commissioned by the Prime Minister to conduct a review into how to sustain and build upon the community response following Covid-19 and to help level up the UK's communities.
Together with twenty other organisations including the Association of Chairs, ACEVO, CAF, Chartered Institute of Fundraising, CRA, Charity Comms, DSC, Eden Project Communities, Equally Ours, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Locality, Muslim Charities Forum, NAVCA, Reach Volunteering, Sign Health, SCC, the Association of Charitable Organisations, UK Youth and WCVA, we have written with our recommendations for themes his review should consider to allow civil society to play its essential role in helping communities not only recover, but build back better.
We look forward to seeing the results of the review and the resulting Government next steps.
Our recommendations in summary are:
1. Level up through knowledge to build upon existing foundations: use initiatives that are already in existence and refocus, repurpose and refresh where appropriate to allow programmes to be pivoted and properly resourced to deliver a more rapid and efficient response to the important issues that have emerged during the Covid19 crisis.
2. Level up through tackling inequality: civil society is ideally placed to support government and local authority efforts to tackle long-standing structural inequalities and the disproportionate impacts of Covid19 that affect women, BAME people and communities, young people, disabled people and other marginalised groups. To do so, we need a strong local infrastructure that includes civil society organisations which represent and serve specific equality groups.
3. Level up through funding: We urge government to release funds already in existence to be invested in local social and physical infrastructure and to ensure that Local Authorities are not left in financial danger and have the adequate resources to more ably support their local communities to maximise its social value.
4. Level up through influence with a Whitehall shift: civil society needs a central place in government to be able to play its full role in achieving the government’s post pandemic objectives. Responsibility for it should be moved back to the Cabinet Office, reflecting the essential and powerful role the multiple parts of the sector play in achieving social change and encouraging social action.
5. Level up through procurement: create a new approach to public service delivery that is more personal and person-centred through grant funding rather than competitive bidding. Retaining and building more trust-based commissioning partnerships between statutory and voluntary agencies will be essential in enabling public services of all types to respond with the speed and flexibility our communities deserve.
6. Level up through adopting local by default : view all initiatives through a local lens, championing the local voluntary and community sector working alongside national organisations who operate locally. Devolve wealth and power to local communities through the establishment of a Community Wealth Fund, created by the use of Dormant Assets, to develop a strong and adequately resourced local social infrastructure.
7. Level up through supporting high quality volunteering experience: It is crucial to ensure that people taking part in volunteering activity have a positive and rewarding experience and that focus is given to enhancing and improving the experience of people who do give their time generously, removing barriers for those who currently are not able to. The most efficient way of enabling this is through high quality and adequately resourced local and community based volunteer management.
8. Level up through a green recovery: The actions taken now by governments to respond to the current health crisis and rebuild our economy must recognise the need for action that will protect the people, place and life that we love from the climate crisis at both a national and community level. We encourage government to invest in initiatives that accelerate the transition to net zero carbon emissions, restoring nature and supporting those most likely to experience harm.
9. Level up though collaboration: The impacts of Covid19 will be felt for years to come and any short-term action will need to be reinforced through a long-term cross-governmental strategy. This is an unprecedented moment in which to reinvigorate the relationship between civil society and government and recognise our shared goals for a future that works for everyone. Recognising the knowledge, expertise and remit of civil society organisations to amplify the voices and represent the needs of our beneficiaries and for this to be used in shared goal setting with government will represent a great step forward in supporting out communities to not only recover, but level up and Build Back Better for a more resilient future.
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