NAVCA respond to Danny Kruger report

Yesterday (24 September) the sector received the long-awaited report from Danny Kruger MP, 'Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant'. Here are the initial reactions to this review from Clare Mills, Head of Communications and External Affairs at NAVCA.

Reaction is mixed, with lots of “happy to work to put this into action @danny_kruger” alongside a good number of “this is just warm words and recycled schemes” and, of course, some comments too rude to put on the NAVCA website. Such is the opportunity social media gives us: to react, to be quick, and in some cases to see what we want to see: a report that confirms the ideology of the writer and his political cadre.

So I’m taking a step back and thinking, for two reasons. First, my direct involvement with local infrastructure has been relatively short, having joined NAVCA at the start of 2020. Although some of the pieces mentioned in the report, such as the Social Value Act, the Localism Act, the Big Society and the Civil Society Strategy are familiar, I need more information from our members and others to understand the nuances of these pieces of work: what was good about them, what was awful and most importantly what stopped them from being the magic bullets that were promised?

Second, I want to read this report again, recognising the report comes out through the lens of a conservative (with a small c) ideology. What are the assumptions this report makes? Are they verifiable? If the assumptions are wrong, what is the impact that has on the recommendations? And if the assumptions are right, do the recommendations follow?

The report talks directly about “engaging with the sector to help nurture a revived, modernised version of the CVS.” I can see how for many NAVCA members, this is a smack in the face. You’ve been breaking your backs for the past decade (or more) trying to find ways to bring in funds so you can support numerous local charities and voluntary organisations. You’ve flexed your business models to bring in income through a diverse range of activities from room rentals to training to payroll services to graphic design, so you can keep the lights on and pay the staff. You’ve had to devote time, energy and maybe tears to processes and schemes that take you away from doing what you do best, just to keep going. So this statement and the implied or perceived criticism from Danny Kruger hurts.

But. But. Let’s remember how much has changed in the relationships we have with the government and public bodies such as NHS England and the Charity Commission over the last three years, and be inspired by the recent offers for local infrastructure support from funding bodies - including government itself. Let’s see how we can use these words to open the door to a productive conversation with government, to secure the funding, support and recognition that everyone here at NAVCA knows you deserve.