An end to strategic relationships between government and the voluntary sector

An end to strategic relationships between government and the voluntary sector

2 February 2011

The Government’s decision to wind down the strategic partnership programme to zero by 2014 threatens the delivery of effective social policy, a leading equalities organisation have warned today.

If the Government are to deliver the aspirations of a Big ‘inclusive’ Society, they need strategic support and guidance from the voluntary, community and enterprise sector (VCSE sector), Voice4Change England (V4CE) argue.

This week the Office for Civil Society (OCS) announced that the strategic partnership programme would be phased out completely in 2014. Existing strategic partners can apply for a maximum of £500,000 from a £9 million transition fund on a tapered funding basis. Only 15 of the 42 current strategic partners will continue to receive any OCS funding.

Applicants to the programme who merge with other organisations by removing service duplication and sharing back office functions will be favoured for maximum grant awards, the Government have stated.

Vandna Gohil, Director of Voice4Change England says:

“There is a real threat that the programme’s £500,000 cap (and the requirement that OCS funding makes up no more than 25% of total annual income) will inadvertently prevent smaller strategic partners from benefitting proportionately. Allocation of strategic resources should be based on an organisation’s scope and value in advancing the Big Society, not on their income levels.

We champion effective partnerships and collaborations right through our policy and support work but they must be mutually beneficial to each party. This programme makes partnerships a requirement which may force organisations into mergers simply to survive. Mergers must be based on increasing services and value to beneficiary groups.

This programme paves the way for a VCSE sector that is financially independent of Government funding. The VCSE sector provide vital social value and partnership with the sector is fundamental if the Government is to deliver effective social policies for the longer term benefit of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

We remind policy makers that financial independence from government is not necessary for the VCSE sector to have a strong, critical voice. The Compact was recently refreshed as a framework for fair and equal partnerships between government and the VCSE sector irrespective of any funding relationship.

As advocates for the BME VCSE sector, we are however pleased to see a programme that recognises the role of VCSE sector support organisations and in particular those that serve communities with protected characteristics. For the whole of society to receive equal service provision, the role of specialist frontline and support bodies are essential to meet the needs of otherwise marginalised groups.



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.

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