BME organisations lose seat at top policy making table

BME organisations lose seat at top policy making table

22 March 2011

No equalities organisations will receive funding as Strategic Partners, the Office for Civil Society (OCS) has revealed today.

OCS has released a list of nine organisations who will receive strategic status and funding as part of their Strategic Partners Transition Programme. The programme will run until 2014 and was open to applications from all 42 existing Strategic Partners. For the remaining 33 organisations, funding will end in March 2011.

The decision to exclude equalities organisations marks a major step back for society’s most excluded and disadvantaged groups, according to the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) support organisation, Voice4Change England (V4CE). A previous OCS strategic partner, V4CE made it to the shortlist but was rejected at the final stage of the process.

Three other equalities organisations, the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, the Women’s Resource Centre and the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Voluntary Organisations will also lose OCS funding.

Set up in 2006, the Strategic Partners Programme was launched to establish a long term relationship between Government and the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and to fulfil specific policy objectives.

Seven out of the nine selected organisations have worked collaboratively with V4CE and relied upon their specialist expertise and reach to help them engage and meet the needs of BME organisations.

Elizabeth Balgobin, Chair of V4CE says: “This is a devastating decision and represents a monumental blow to the BME VCS and the disadvantaged communities they serve. The BME VCS have lost their seat at one of the most significant tables of national Government decision making. Decades of policy making have proven that without the inclusion of BME voices, the distinct needs of disadvantaged BME communities are not met.

Under the Equality Act 2010, OCS has a legal duty to pay due regard to the elimination of racism and advancing equality of opportunity. Without a single equalities organisation having made the final cut we question their ability to do this.

V4CE has an obligation to our stakeholders to pursue redress and seek justice on what we view as an unfair decision. We will contact OCS and ask to see the equalities impact assessment undertaken for this programme and request further details of the decision making process.

We will continue to work with mainstream providers to tackle inequality and support better outcomes for BME communities. But without funding and Government recognition for the value of the BME VCS, our role and the role of our stakeholders will be severely compromised. It will be impossible for us to act as the necessary conduit between government, the mainstream VCS and BME organisations.”

Ben Kernighan, Deputy CEO at NCVO says:NCVO was sorry to hear that V4CE will not continue as an OCS strategic partner, as their work, reach and specialist voice is of great value within the sector. We are committed to continuing to work with them to help ensure that BME voluntary organisations get the voice, support and influence that they need.

Justin Davis Smith, CEO of Volunteering England says: “We will be working with Voice4Change England on diversity within the volunteering movement, as well as developing our on going partnerships across the sector.”

This decision can be linked to a shift in public policy developments where equality has become a “dirty word” (Equalities Minister Theresa May’s Equality Strategy Speech, 17 Nov 2010). There is only one thematic BME-led body funded by the Department of Health across the entire Government machinery.

Ends

 

Notes to Editor

About Voice4Change England

Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a national support organisation for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Since 2007 we have operated as a strategic partner of the Office for Civil Society. We are a leading voice in public policy and inform and influence practice that has a direct affect on the development, delivery and impact of BME voluntary and community organisations (VCOs). We support the sector to build its capacity and secure resources to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded communities.

Our mission at V4CE is to ensure public policy meets the needs of BME communities by valuing and supporting BME VCOs to challenge inequality and strengthen civil society.

About NCVO

NCVO is the largest umbrella body and membership association for the voluntary sector in England. We have been helping voluntary organisations like yours for over 90 years and count over 8,400 organisations as members. Through a special partnership with V4CE, we are offering a 20% discount to all eligible V4CE members.

About Volunteering England

Volunteering England is an independent charity and membership organisation, committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. Our work links policy, research, innovation, good practice and programme management in the involvement of volunteers.

 

For more information please contact Vandna Gohil, Director 0207 843 6131.