"Voluntary sector is part of the solution" - Compact Voice, NAVCA and ACEVO
The letter can be read in full below.
As we have done in previous years we are writing to remind you of the value of your local voluntary and community sector (VCS) as you make budget decisions and to follow Best Value Statutory Guidance, the Compact and act with fairness when agreeing budgets. At a time when local councils face the biggest cuts in living memory, it is still important to abide by these legal precepts but we must also move beyond this simple approach. We understand the pressure local councils are facing due to central government finance decisions, so want to help you understand how the VCS can help you maintain vital support for communities in these tough times.
The VCS is already helping local authorities by;
- Providing essential services for your most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents. This early action prevents greater costs later.
- VCS organisations are able to access parts of a local population that statutory bodies can struggle to reach. They act as a voice for service users.
- Helping local authorities maintain valued community assets and services for local people. They are taking on buildings and being asked to provide services previously delivered directly by councils. We have seen the voluntary sector play a vital role in maintaining community libraries.
- Making local public funding go further for local people. For example, a recent study in Southwark found that local charities brought in to local communities an additional £5 for every £1 of public funding.
- Leading innovative approaches to increase community support. For example Merton local charities have launched a campaign to encourage buying locally to support local businesses and charities and Love Kingston, Tameside4Good and Hackney Giving are examples of local giving campaigns encouraging local residents and businesses to support local charities.
- Standing alongside local authorities in campaigns to secure more funding to support community services.
Salami slicing will mean doing nothing well, so we have to find new approaches. Your local VCS can help because you share common goals of defending and strengthening communities. We all want stronger, more resilient communities that are ready to face challenges and seize opportunities. You can help your local VCS by;
- Adopting a good practice approach to commissioning which includes engaging with organisations in all stages. Your VCS can help service users inform local services, which will help improve outcomes and can save money. See NCVO's guidance.
- Including social value in procurement activities. We urge you to consider carefully and implement the requirements of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and the Cabinet Office's 2013 Social Value Guidance when designing and procuring services. See Compact Voice's guidance.
- Considering the flexibility and responsiveness that appropriate local grant funding, as distinct from contracts, may still deliver. See NAVCA guidance.
- Considering how you can support social investment locally so that your local charities and social enterprises can benefit from this form of funding.
We hope that you continue to work with local VCS organisation to get the best for local communities. Local government has always been a friend of charities, social enterprise and local voluntary action. Even in this difficult environment there are opportunities. Please talk to local VCS organisations in your area and make them part of the solutions to challenges you face.
Simon Blake OBE,
Chair of Compact Voice
Chief Executive, NAVCA
Chief Executive, ACEVO