Caron Bradshaw, CEO of Charity Finance Group, explains why CFG has worked with partners to organise the Devolution and the Voluntary Sector Summit and why she thinks it is important that the sector comes together to put forward a positive agenda for Devolution.
One of the regular topics of conversation in the charity sector is devolution. We all know that devolution is going to significantly change the way that we interact with government. However, the sector has so far been side lined in any developments. Policy makers have favoured private businesses as the best innovators, and the primary vehicle for economic growth.
Local communities and our beneficiaries should be at the heart of the Devolution agenda, but this as yet has not been realised.
Over the last year, CFG has seen an increasing appetite across the sector for collaboration to develop and shape policies. Having a breadth of individual voices across our sector is valuable, but where there is an opportunity to speak together we should take it – especially on issues that affect all of us, across the breadth of our diverse sector. This is why CFG has partnered with Locality, NAVCA and Children England to bring sector leaders together for the Voluntary Sector and Devolution Summit.
While the new Prime Minister Theresa May has not abandoned devolution, it is unclear whether devolution deals will continue under the format devised by Cameron and Osborne. During this period of reassessment, we have an opportunity to reset the conversation on devolution and shape it to better meet the needs of our sector and those people who we support.
As the UK navigates Brexit, we as a sector are duty bound to speak up. The has already faced sector pressure to be quiet and with less opportunities to speak to those in power, we must increase our voices. There is therefore a need for us to identify how the sector can stand up and represent our beneficiaries within emerging and evolving devolved structures.
What can charities do to engage with devolution?
We need to also think about how local services are going to be funded in the new devolved world. What impact has and will devolution have on public service reform – an issue which is still critical for many organisations. In particular how can devolution ensure that voluntary organisations are still able to compete and bid for public services?
Working collaboratively to share expertise across these themes and starting to shape a positive agenda for Devolution will put the sector in the best possible position to play the role it should in supporting people and communities across the country.
What our summit hopes to achieve?
Many of the organisations that will be represented at the Summit have been thinking about these issues. The Summit is not designed to replace this thinking but to bring the ideas together.
This must not be a talking shop. The summit will draw out the key themes and use those to shape a sector statement on devolution which we can then use to raise the profile of this issue with government. We need to make policy makers see our sector as a crucial partner if devolution is going to work.