Article 50: the voluntary and community sector should not stand aside

xJohn-Tizard-700-x-473-landscape.jpg.pagespeed.ic.idMOERMr1SThe voluntary and community sector (VCS) should seize the opportunity opened up as government prepares to challenge the high court judgement on who has the legal authority to invoke Article 50.

Whatever the individual views on leaving the EU, organisations should not stand aside as parliament and government consider their strategies.

They should be actively seeking to influence the objectives of Brexit negotiations and consider what kind of society and economy we want, post-Brexit.

Many organisations are already responding to the rise in hate crime and attacks on migrant communities and individuals. They are seeking to restore decency and social cohesion. Others are offering support and advice to EU citizens living in the UK.

Given the atmosphere in parts of the country and the interventions by some politicians and parts of the print media, the voluntary and community sector has a responsibility to speak up for tolerance, inclusion and fairness; and to oppose xenophobic behaviour. The referendum indicated the level of dissatisfaction with, and distance from, politics and the formal public sector in many communities. The VCS can speak for these communities and must do so; and help to shape a better country.

Specifically the sector can make the case for immigration and explain its economic and social benefits while campaigning for financial support to areas most impacted by migration and for the implementation of employment standards including the Living Wage.

The VCS should find common cause with trade unions and progressive politicians to press for current EU employment rights to be continued and strengthened.

Given the importance of employment, economic growth and commercial investment to many communities there is a case for the sector to engage in the debates about the single market and customs union and an opportunity to press for a more socially-based public procurement and more collaboration between the public sector and the VCS.

Of course the VCS and many of the communities it works in are in receipt of EU funding. I believe that the recipients of these funds should collectively be demanding assurances from the government that it will continue to fund any shortfalls.

Over the next few years as a consequence of the vote on 23rd June there will be many changes in this country. These will impact on every aspect of politics, society, the economy, public services and the environment. VCS organisations individually and collectively, locally and nationally, should be considering what kind of country they would wish to see emerge.

I very much hope that the aim would be a country with:

  • greater equality of power, wealth and income
  • a progressive reduction in poverty
  • more co-operativism and less neo-liberalism
  • inclusive social and economic growth across the country not in pockets
  • redistribution between regions and places
  • social justice
  • tolerance and strong human rights for all
  • fair access to high quality public services
  • devolved democratic decision making – to sub-regions, town halls and through to communities with strong accountable local government; and a vibrant civil society and VCS
  • fair and decent employment practices
  • a sustainable environment
  • transparency and accountability

The VCS is well-qualified and well placed to start a conversation about this; and to steer the national and local debates into positive territory.

As the aftermath of the referendum evolves and in whatever form this takes the VCS should deploy its voice, experience, actions and passion for the greater good. It must not stand aside.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top