In 2016 the social sector must renew its resolve and its solidarity

We face a further year of uncertainty and challenge, to survive which, social sector solidarity is going to be essential.

Leaders of charities and voluntary and community organisations, both locally and nationally, should co-ordinate their activities and form alliances around shared agendas.

To that end, I have identified four areas around which, I believe the sector should focus in 2016. These are:

1. Welfare reform and spending cuts: Evidence the impact and make the case for alternatives

  • Undertaking evidence-based analysis of the impact of welfare and benefits reforms and public service cuts; and promoting alternative policies that are not simply about cutting and reducing the role of the state; and positively making the case instead for socially progressive measures such as the introduction of a basic income as being proposed in the Netherlands, Finland and elsewhere
  • Designing and introducing alternative services and approaches to service delivery
  • Using national and international evidence to demonstrate the need for investment in social capital and well-funded efficient public services to enhance economic growth
  • Making the case for investing in environmentally sustainability and resilient communities

2. Fairness and equality: Speak out against inequality

  • In a country with increasing poverty and inequality, where there are vast inequalities between regions and places, making the case for progressive taxation and redistribution in order to secure greater equality
  • Protecting and defending equalities legislation, and promoting its application
  • Speaking up with and for, and defending the rights of and enabling the empowerment of minority and marginalised groups
  • Engaging in the wider public debate on democratic reform and an extension rather than restriction of human rights
  • Making the case for collaboration and co-operation to counter the emphasis on unregulated competition and market solutions

3. English devolution: Make the case for double devolution

  • Making the case for double devolution to ensure that resources (and where appropriate decision making) is devolved to communities and neighbourhoods, not just to local or sub-regional institutions; and that for devolved resources to be adequate and fair
  • Arguing the case for the engagement of citizens as well as the voluntary and community sector, businesses and local citizens in the development of devolution deals; and for local accountability
  • Finding common cause with local government at the national and local levels wherever possible on this agenda

4. Reform and promote the voluntary and community sectors: Collaboration and innovation   

  • Defending and promoting the independence of the sector and its right (and indeed duty) to offer voice, to speak out and challenge and to engage in public discourse on public policy
  • Collaborating with others across civil society to secure shared goals
  • Leading the reform of the sector through the promotion of excellence in governance, transparency and accountability, and leadership; and challenging poor or bad practice
  • Promoting and practicing ethical fundraising
  • Supporting shared services, collaboration and, where appropriate, mergers between voluntary and community sector organisations
  • Making the case for local and national sector infrastructure, which can support a diverse and effective sector; and for public sector funding for this
  • Continuing to make the case for grants and, where there are public sector contracts, for these to be fully funded and sustainable
  • Demonstrating an ability to innovate and not fossilise
  • Measuring the sector’s impact
  • Exploring alternative funding and investment sources, including social finance designed to secure better outcomes

This may seem a long and demanding list but I believe that these themes should be of vital concern across a sector which is supposedly committed to fairness, social justice, equality and empowerment, which wishes to make a difference, and which is committed to being an exemplar of best practice.

The year 2016 can be the year of an ambitious and successful charity and voluntary and community sector. Actually, let me go further – it has to be!


Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vaughan Thomas
Vaughan Thomas
8 years ago

Given the circumstances we find ourselves in, is anyone going to argue with this? I doubt it. Its a challenge but one that has to be addressed as John Tizard says but given Trustees of charities are obligated to be prudent and are anything but innovative in their financing, it might be a challenge too far for some. It sometimes appears to be asking a leopard to change its spots but given the money that is out there will be coming from the private sector, perhaps that won’t be an issue but I doubt it will come from, or originate from, the charitable sector itself.

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top