The five-minute policy manager – November 2013

NCVO’s policy team has been working around the clock in recent weeks; this new NCVO policy blog gives you a 5 minute digest of what we’ve been up to and the latest policy issues for the voluntary sector.

So, what’s new in November?

There is a slight breather on the Lobbying Bill

Part 2 of the Bill will now be considered in December. We’re encouraged that the Government has finally listened to some of our concerns, but they’ve not got much time to address them. The next stage of debate has simply been pushed back to December. NCVO will be producing recommendations on issues from registration thresholds to campaigning coalitions, and working closely with the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement.

NCVO has met Ministers and officials about their proposed procurement reforms

We’ve said that the spirit of the proposals is right, but several need more detailed consideration. For example, standardising PQQs across the public sector may be a good idea to improve proportionality, but there is still a need for training for procurement officers. The Government is currently considering the consultation responses. Meanwhile, a full consultation is due in the new year on raising EU procurement thresholds.

We’re talking to the Treasury about the Chancellor’s plans for an ‘annually managed expenditure’ cap

The cap will set annual limits for spending on social security. Many charities are concerned this will lead to short term decision making (e.g. arbitrary reductions in benefits), rather than longer term measures to reduce demand for benefits (e.g. housebuilding, better support for long-term unemployed). Watch out for more news on this in the Autumn Statement on 5 Dec.

We recently responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation on proposals to change judicial review

We’ve highlighted concerns about limiting the ability of charities to launch judicial reviews, where their beneficiaries have been affected. We will continue to look into this issue as the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has extended its inquiry on legal aid to look into these latest proposals on judicial review.

The proposed probation and rehabilitation reforms are being debated in parliament

Oli Henman, NCVO’s Head of Partnerships gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee this week and stressed that lessons must be learnt from the Work Programme.

This month I’m reading Vicky Pryce’s Prisonomics

Her short experience behind bars adds insight to the economics in this book. Charities like the Howard League and Revolving Doors have been making the case for years that prison is not inherently transformative and doesn’t do enough to reduce re-offending. High time for some proper debate.

Micro-volunteering is set to rise, according to a new IVR/NCVO report

Micro-volunteering is when people give little bits of time on a one-off basis – e.g. signing petitions or counting wildlife in their gardens. We expect to see more opportunities like this in the future. Charities wanting to widen their volunteering offer should check out the report.

It’s great to see Big Lottery Fund and NESTA opening up their funding data this month

We’ll be crunching the numbers to find out more about funding patterns and voluntary organisations’ work. We hope to see other funders opening up their data in due course.

Finally, a prize for Jez Reeve at Cambridge CVS for the best management diagram I’ve seen in ages

See below – the voluntary sector responses to cuts in public funding (read it from left to right). Jez points out that ostriches aren’t hiding from the truth, but simply getting on with protecting their young. Voluntary organisations need to keep looking ahead if they’re to anticipate cuts and adapt accordingly. If your organisation wants some help to think about what’s coming, read NCVO’s Road Ahead report and Counting the Cuts 2013.

vol sec ostriches

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Charlotte Ravenscroft was NCVO’s head of policy and public services. Charlotte’s wrote about funding, public service delivery, and strengthening the evidence base for voluntary action. She has also worked at The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Education.

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