Government policy and funding round-up: February 2022

This round-up will help you to stay informed about our influencing work, and any government policy and funding announcements. For news related to what’s happening in parliament, see our regular inside track round-up.

Levelling up

At the start of the month the government published the Levelling Up white paper, which sets out their commitments to tackle geographical or spatial inequality across the UK.

Last year we worked with NCVO members and the Civil Society Group to help shape the levelling up agenda. We’re pleased to see some of our recommendations referenced in the white paper, particularly a commitment to developing a strategy for community spaces and relationships. We hope to work with you again this year to influence this strategy.

Read our blog on our reflections and analysis of the white paper.

Shared prosperity fund

The UK shared prosperity fund (UKSPF) is the successor to EU structural funds. EU structural funding, which averaged £2bn per year from 2014 to 2020, was aimed at supporting regional economic development across the UK, including strengthening employment support and boosting skills. There are serious concerns about the design and development of the UKSPF, including the following.

  • Less funding will be available.
  • We have yet to see details of the fund, even though EU structural funding is already tapering off.
  • The government has said it doesn’t want funding to be spent on skills and employment in England in the first two years.

We’re working with a group of civil society organisations to put our concerns to the government. Read our blog about our concerns to find out more.

Kids Company

Last week, the Charity Commission finally published its report into the closure of Kids Company. While the Commission found no misconduct by the trustees, it did find that the repeated failure to pay HM Revenue and Customs and staff on time amounted to mismanagement.

The report highlighted:

  • the charity’s risky demand-led model and the lack of reserves to support this
  • a lack of transparency when talking about the number of beneficiaries
  • a lack of specialist expertise in youth services and psychotherapy on the board
  • concerns about staff destroying records when the charity collapsed – though it noted the trustees stopped this when they became aware.

Read our blog about the lessons charities can learn from the report.

Disability workforce reporting

The government is consulting on whether to make disability workforce reporting mandatory for organisations with over 250 employees. We’ll respond to this consultation and express our support for this policy. NCVO has also signed up to the Disability Employment Charter, which sets out actions the government needs to take to address the disability employment and pay gaps. NCVO voluntarily reports on our gender pay gap, and we have an aim to improve our disability and race workforce reporting. The consultation deadline is 25 March.

Public services workforce inquiry

The Lords Public Services Committee also has an open inquiry, focusing on how to improve the public services workforce. We’re submitting evidence to this inquiry because we know NCVO members face significant challenges in this area, particularly where contract values don’t allow for pay increases. The deadline is 28 February.

Protect duty

The government has issued a response to their consultation on the protect duty, which would create new requirements for organisations to enhance public security. We responded to the consultation last year with other infrastructure bodies. We’re keen to ensure that any responsibilities are effective, proportionate and clear.

Vaccination as a condition of deployment

The government has paused its policy requiring some workers and volunteers delivering Care Quality Commission regulated activities to have the covid-19 vaccine as a condition of deployment, with a view to revoking this policy. A consultation on this decision ran for a week and closed on 16 February.

Bates Wells have produced a guide for employers on vaccinations. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Human rights review

The government are conducting a review of the human rights act.

The British Institute of Human Rights has produced a question-by-question guide on the consultation. The consultation closes on 8 March.

Health and Social Care Integration white paper

The Department of Health and Social Care has published a white paper on health and social care integration. The paper offers several questions. The department is inviting views on the paper until 7 April. The paper sets out a desire to increase volunteering across health and social care, but other than this there’s very little mention of the voluntary sector. This is concerning because charities and community organisations are such key partners in supporting health and wellbeing.

If your organisation is part of the health and social care system, we’re interested to hear what you think about the proposals.

If you have any issues you would like to share with us, please contact policy@ncvo.org.uk.

 

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Rebecca Young is a senior policy officer at NCVO, working primarily on public services and volunteering policy. Before joining NCVO, Rebecca led on mental health, housing and disability policy at the National Union of Students.

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