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Big Lottery Fund Building capabilities for impact and legacy” discussion paper
The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) plans to invest at least £20m to improve the capabilities of voluntary and community sector organisations (VCOs) to complement Government’s £30m Transforming Local Infrastructure fund. To inform and shape how the money is spent BLF set out their proposed approach in a discussion paper: “Building capabilities for impact and legacy” and invited views through an online survey.
Here we provide a summary of our response to the consultation.
National Audit Office Review of central government's implementation of the renewed Compact
Central government bodies are aware of the Compact however they hesitate to implement it as it is seen as an additional burden rather then a tool of good practice. Government has too much discretionary power to overlook the Compact in its decision making. We saw this specifically with the Transforming Local Infrastructure Fund where the administrative processes involved created barriers for small BME VCOs.
Specifically around equalities, there is a lack of knowledge and awareness around equality and diversity issues. This further leads to a lack of knowledge around how the Compact links with equality initiatives and in particular equalities legislation. There is a requirement for resources to be made available to up skill the government around equality and diversity issues and equalities legislation and how it links with the Compact.
In our response we call for increased transparency and accountability to ensure compliance with the national compact through the:
- Publication of the BME specific Compact implementation guides;
- Establishing of Compact Ambassadors within government departments and public bodies;
- Requirement for government to report annually on Compact progress and ensuring data and reports are made available to the public for scrutiny.
Public Services White Paper
We argue that plans to personalise services need to be assessed for their impact on equality and steps taken to ensure that all communities can exercise choice. Where local people take an increased role in shaping or running services, there should be active outreach to marginalised communities and steps take to make structures more accessible.
In commissioning, Local Authorities can level the playing field for BME VCOs including by recognising the value of specialist service delivery and market shaping and pump priming services to meet community needs; making social return on investment a criteria in contracts; and assessing the appropriateness of payment by results when working with vulnerable communities.
At a national level, Government needs to ensure checks and balances are in place to create a minimum standard for equality and human rights objectives in public service provision, whilst allowing local authorities to be responsive to local needs.
Community Right to Challenge
V4CE welcomes the introduction of the Community Right to Challenge initiative and the government’s commitment to considering social value in the implementation of the power. The power should be seen as an opportunity to address disadvantage and inequality persistently suffered by communities in local areas through public service delivery. We also urge for government to clarify the scope and processes around the Community Right to Challenge power as well as implementing measures and balances to remove barriers which prevent BME VCOs from competing in commissioning processes.
Modernisation of EU public procurement policy
V4CE partnered with the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) to provide a UK perspective in the debate focusing on the modernisation of European Union public procurement policy. In our response we urge the European Commission to use EU public procurement policy as an opportunity to mainstream anti-discrimination and positive action. In this way the public procurement directives can reinforce the EU racial equality and employment directives with regard to equal opportunities for men and women.
V4CE urges the Government to remove barriers to commissioning and provide resources to allow BME VCOs to take part. Equality must be made integral to the commissioning, we argue. With the ability to reach groups that other service providers cannot, we remind the government of the unique value BME VCOs bring to public service delivery.
Supporting a Stronger Civil Society
BME VCOs have distinct needs and challenges and therefore require tailored support to survive, we argue. V4CE points out that, as the government has acknowledged with its drive towards localism, a one size fits all approach will not meet the needs of all communities. We promote a model of joint ownership between the Government and the voluntary and community sector which fosters mutuality but respects separate agendas.
V4CE welcomes moves to root the renewed Compact within equality legislation and introduce an Ombudsman to investigate Compact cases. The weakening of the Compact’s commitment to a 12 week consultation period remains a concern to us, as do some of the transparency measures expected of government departments.
Briefing: Comprehensive Spending Review Briefing Paper (2010)
Office for the Third Sector
Social Investment Bank
Single Equalities Scheme
Tackling Race Inequalities
Briefing: Tackling Race Inequalities (2009)
Comprehensive Area Assessment Joint Inspectorate
Briefing: CLG Empowerment Fund (2008)
Cohesion Guidance for Funders