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Policy Bulletin, issue 36

Welcome to RAWM’s bi-weekly policy e-briefing for all those interested in sustaining influence and change in the West Midlands. This briefing aims to summarise of all the main policy developments and changes affecting voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups in the West Midlands. If you have information you would like to contribute to the e-briefing, please contact Katherine Gordon, Policy Coordinator on 0121 359 9114 or email katherineg@rawm.co.uk. RAWM welcomes any constructive feedback regarding this fortnightly policy e-briefing.

Sustaining Influence and Change is a three year workstream within RAWM, funded by the Big Lottery BASIS programme and aims to build the capacity of voluntary and community sector groups and organisations by providing support that will allow the sector to be more effective in regional policy work and engagement. One such example is through regional policy fora which provide opportunities to work together on policy issues of regional importance.

Sharon Palmer
Chief Executive Officer

In this issue

General

Funding & Resources

Personal and Organisational Development

Consultations

General

Taking stock - The West Midlands region

There have been major changes to the governance structures in the West Midlands region since the general election.

On 22nd June, the West Midlands Leaders Board voted to downsize its organisational structure, but to continue working together across the region, as well as developing sub-regional clusters.
More recently, the Board has changed its name to West Midlands Councils.

On 5th July, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles formally revoked the regional integrated strategies

A ministerial statement on the abolition of the government offices was issued on 22nd July

West Midlands and the Social Agenda
Download notes and presentations from the OPEN event held on 7 July 2010.

Taking stock - nationally

Each government department has issued a draft structural reform plan. The Cabinet Office issued their plan in June, which contains the timetable for creating the Big Society.

More specific detail about localism and the Big Society are contained in the CLG plan.

On the 19th July, the Prime Minister launched the Big Society Bank and four ‘Vanguard’ areas where Big Society is to be piloted.

Read a transcript of the PM’s speech.

The Big Society Network was launched on 13th July 2010

The Citizenship Survey 2009-March 2010 was released on 22nd July. The percentage of people feeling able to influence local decision making and volunteering has dropped; other indicators have remained static or have not changed significantly.

At the first Big Society Practitioners round table held by CLG, representatives from local community groups laid out the barriers stopping people realising their full potential.

Notwithstanding the results of the Citizenship Survey and the messages from the round table, CLG have issued a press release stating that people are ready for the Big Society.

Eric Pickles has been appointed co-Chair of the Ministerial Big Society Group. The appointment was been made after localism was added to the group’s remit.

Compact
 

Key issues

 

Compact Voice has launched a ‘Priority Areas’ programme.

Action points and key dates

Volunteer matters

Volunteer Rights Enquiry

Action points and key dates

Volunteering England has published an interim report; you can download and submit a response form to the ongoing enquiry from their website.

A stakeholder event is being held at NCVO on Thursday 29th July 2010. The information on the website implies that the consultation will close in September.

National Citizen Service

Key issues

The Cabinet Office has issued an invitation to bid to run a pilot for the National Citizen Service, a programme designed to encourage 16 year olds to take part in community work in Summer 2011.

Action points and key dates

View outline of commissioning process

Rural Communities and Financial Inclusion

The Commission for Rural Communities has published a report on financial inclusion in rural communities.

Funding & Resources

Communitybuilders

Following a temporary halt while a review was conducted, Communitybuilders has re-opened.

Big Society Bank will be a wholesaler

Key issues

Nick Hurd, Civil Society Minister, has stated that the Big Society Bank will be a wholesale bank.

Implications for organisations

The Big Society bank will be financed by assets seized from dormant bank and building society accounts. The Government intends to use the funds to capitalise VCOs delivering public services. As a wholesale bank, small and medium sized VCOs will not be able to approach the Big Society Bank direct. However, large national charities whose turnover puts them in a position to bid for DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and MoJ (Ministry of Justice) contracts as a prime contractor may be able to make direct applications for loan finance.

Cohesive Communities

The Young Foundation and IDeA have jointly published a report on the benefits of effective partnership working between local government and the VCS.

Personal and Organisational Development

Mergers

The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has produced a briefing which sets out critical factors for merging, based on lessons learned from four case studies.

Ethnic minorities in Britain

Key issues

Leeds University has published a report projecting population trends up to 2051.

Implications for organisations

Although this is a very academic report, the data may be useful in long term service planning as well as developing equality and diversity policies.

Consultations

DWP - Work Programme

Key issues

DWP is seeking to capture comments to help them develop the new single Work Programme.

Action points and key dates

There are two consultation topics:

  • Capital Raising and Payment Models - closes Friday 30th July
  • Efficiencies. Customers and Implementation - open 2nd - 13th August

 

DCMS - apportionment of National Lottery shares

Key issues

DCMS proposes to cut the amount of National Lottery funds to ‘good causes’ to 40%, while increasing the share to sports, arts and heritage to 60%.

Action points and key dates

The consultation ends on Saturday 21st August 2010.

Third sector skills strategy

Key issues

Skills Third Sector is running a consultation exercise on the skills needs of the voluntary and community sector. A regional consultation event was held on 13th July, but you can also submit an online form.

Action points and key dates

The consultation closes in September.

Cutting Third Sector regulation

Key issues

The Government’s dialogue on cutting regulations affecting the sector is still open.

Implications for organisations

The Government obviously does not guarantee to act on every idea; however, given the expectations placed on the sector to play a substantial role in the Big Society, it is important that VCOs use every opportunity to influence Government thinking.

Action points and key dates

No deadline is stated; however, we would encourage you to submit your ideas as soon as possible as the dialogue could end at any time.