The hotly (or anxiously) anticipated spending review is now less than a month away. CFG have been working with other voluntary sector leaders to develop a menu of policy proposals that we believe will enable charities adapt to the volatile funding environment, improve their effectiveness and lay the groundwork for future growth. The proposals have now been submitted to the Chancellor.
The Spending Review is the Government's opportunity to set out a strategic plan to invest in the voluntary sector over the next Parliament. We know that the Chancellor is committed to cutting departmental budgets and recognise that it is a challenging environment in which charities are bidding for support. However, as my colleague, Andrew O’Brien, wrote in a previous blog post, we do not serve our beneficiaries by failing to push hard for change and recognition of the value that charities add to both society and the UK economy. The sector should be supported in laying the groundwork for future growth and improving their effectiveness, and we should be bold in asking for such.
A challenging time for charities?
Simply put, charities are facing two broad challenges:
- Squeezed resources: we have written before about the fact that the sector is facing a £4.6bn funding gap by 2018, the capacity crunch impacting on charities, and dearth in communities’ asset base, are having on charities’ ability to adapt, grow and develop.
- Negative public perception: whilst I would challenge the assumption that the behaviour of one charity can be generalised to all charities, the collapse of Kids Company, investigations into fundraising practices and continued negative press coverage of CEO pay, continues to provide reputational challenges to the sector.
Proposals for building stronger communities
In order to enable voluntary organisations to continue to support local communities, the submission provides detailed proposals for strategic investment. This would create a step change in the commissioning and delivery of public services, and the purchase of community assets to ensure stronger more resilient communities. The proposals were developed with a keen awareness of the need to complement existing initiatives - such as the Small Charities Fundraising Training Programme and the Commissioning Academy – rather than reinventing the wheel, and with a view to specifically supporting small and medium-sized charities in the most deprived local authorities. Our five proposals are:
- Existing public service contracts should be adjusted for the introduction of the National Living Wage, and related workplace pension costs.
- The creation of a Community Capital Fund to enable communities to take ownership of their assets and ensure they become self-sustaining.
- The creation of a Centre for Social Value which would sit within the Commissioning Academy.
- Creation of Voluntary Sector Master Classes to compliment the recently introduced Local Sustainability Fund by providing a range of technical training sessions that will equip voluntary organisations with the ability to improve their capacity and financial sustainability in the long-term.
- The establishment of Partnership Hubs to promote and create innovative solutions in the delivery of public services.
Anjelica Finnegan, Senior Policy Officer, CFG
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