Danny Kruger, an MP and former charity leader, had been requested by the UK government to create a report on how they will be able to make the most out of the voluntary sector in the UK’s recovery from COVID-19. On the 24th September, this was released. And the report itself divides into three key areas: Power, People and Place.
Mr Kruger is clear that there would need to be reform of public procurement. His suggestion is that a Community Power Act would allow local areas to develop their own procurement priorities based on Commissioning for Public Value. This would be designed and led by communities themselves. It would put local people at the heart of making decisions locally as the Act would potentially be allied with Community Improvement Districts.
The report recognises a need for public engagement and with that there is a need for investment in social infrastructure. There is a proposal that has been long in existence, that what is needed is a Civil Society Improvement Agency. The report emphasises a need for better use of data and digital inclusion, and some ambitious ideas using UN indicators to measure the impact of civil society.
It is realistic however in that it proposes the need for digital relationships to have better structure in society. Using Big Techs as an example of agents acting in a non-propriety manner. It also says that Government and Civil Society are not up to scratch with regard to data collecting.
New official measures to understand and track the economic and social contribution of civil society
Data from government and civil society saying where funding goes and what it delivers.
Big Tech firms to finance and co-design non-prop design infrastructure for communities.
A new commitment to ‘social value’ commissioning, considering the whole of government accounts rather than a single budget
A Community Power Act, creating the ‘Community Right to Serve’ by which community groups can challenge for a role in the design and delivery of public services
Community Improvement Districts or ‘pop-up parishes’ with time-limited freedoms and flexibilities to deliver community-led change
A new national institution to help local places and organisations improve performance and exercise greater responsibility; and to build an index of social infrastructure that can inform both national and local policy making.
The main takeaway from the report is the Volunteer Passport. What this means, is that once vetted you are able to volunteer during the good times and the bad! Under the scheme, volunteers could offer to be a part of a National Reserve, Community Support or Public Service group of volunteers. It applauds the Kickstart Scheme for youth employment, however emphasises that there is a need for younger people to engage with civil society longer term. Finally, the report focuses on faith group activities. It recognises that they have value in times of crisis, but that they have been too insular. It says that they should look to help more broadly with societal issues such as homelessness and debt.
A Volunteer Passport system to match the supply of and demand for volunteers, with options to: join a new National Volunteer Reserve to help with future emergencies and with environmental projects; deliver ongoing mutual aid to people in crisis; fulfil formal public service roles such as magistrates or charity trustees
Service opportunities for young people, funded through the Kickstart programme, to work on a variety of social and environmental projects
A new deal with faith communities, by which government supports a greater role for faith groups in meeting social challenges
An annual ‘Neighbour Day’ bank holiday to celebrate communities’ work together.
Small charities are mentioned specifically on pg 43, through the lens of working locally. It calls for local councils to be a convenor and enabler of civil society and a continued emphasis on place making and saving community assets. The section and report concludes with a focus on philanthropy and calls on the creation of a Community Recovery Fund, a Levelling Up Communities Fund, and reform of the National Lottery Community Fund to allow for local decision making. In order to free up money for place based making, the author suggests that the UK International Development Budget be used to match fund international philanthropists willing to invest in the UK.
Planning rules to promote the creation of social capital through good design, the recognition of the need for gathering places, and community ownership of public assets.
Policy to support independent social infrastructure, including professional ‘connectors’ charged with linking local services together, and physical hubs to co-locate services and enable gathering
A new focus on the modern local library, often community-managed, delivering business start-up support and digital inclusion for local communities
Policy to make it easier to start and run a charity, and create a modern version of the local CVS
A ‘match trade’ scheme to support social enterprises, which play a crucial role in economic and social development in disadvantaged communities
Options to boost philanthropy, including civic crowdfunding, and social investment 18. A new £500m Community Recovery Fund, financed by the allocation of the dormant National Fund, for charities and community groups supporting the transition from the ‘response’ to the ‘recovery’ phase
Consult on the use of the £2bn+ which will shortly be available from new dormant assets: options include a new endowment, the Levelling Up Communities (LUC) Fund, for perpetual investment in long-term, transformational, community-led local projects in left-behind areas.
Review the National Lottery Community Fund, which is now 25 years old, with a view to a more local and community-led distribution model.
For the full report, follow the link https://www.dannykruger.org.uk/communities-report
The Next Steps
It is not clear what will happen next. It has been rumoured that there will be a national conversation to progress the recommendations. For our part at SCC, we will be holding a special meeting to discuss the next stage of a collective response to the report. SCC has now been invited to a meeting with Mr Kruger, and we would really welcome your views in advance. The meeting will be on Tuesday 13th October 2020, 12noon -1pm .We will also be tabling the Kruger report at relevant Meet-Ups in October, especially for the International and Faith Based sector.