Here is a brief summary of the top ideas in the report. As ever it’s a mixed bag of old, new, borrowed and distinctly blue. Headlines have focussed on the call for yet another army of volunteers, missing many of the more interesting ideas. Although it may not be perfect it’s by far the best thing to have come out of central government in a decade so well worth engaging with the process that, we are promised, will now follow.
There are few press articles so far and those are not great – the best of a lack-lustre bunch is Patrick Butler’s in the Guardian – but it’s not very detailed and misses many of the more interesting proposals. There has been some analysis by the sector – DSC’s initial analysis is the best so far. There has been some analysis from NCVO. NAVCA has also written an initial response. As better articles and analysis appears we will link to them.
The top ideas in the report are:
A ‘Community Power Act’ to give local people power over the design and delivery of public services
‘Pop-up parishes’ with time-limited powers and freedoms to innovate
A new £500 million Community Recovery Fund, financed through the defunct National Fund
A new £2 billion endowment, the Levelling Up Communities Fund, for investment in long-term, community-led transformation in left-behind areas, financed through dormant insurance accounts.
A Volunteer Passport system to match the supply & demand for voluntary help
A new National Volunteer Reserve to help with future emergencies & ongoing environmental challenges
Paid ‘service opportunities’ for unemployed young people on social & environmental projects
An annual Neighbour Day bank holiday to celebrate communities and volunteering
A deal with faith communities to work with the public sector on big social challenges
A deal with Big Tech to design new ‘digital infrastructure’ for communities
And finally… a couple of recommendations that have had colleagues around the country scratching their heads.
“Policy to make it easier to start and run a charity, and create a modern version of the local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)”
Creating a ‘Civil Society Improvement Agency’
Well it’s nice that a politician has noticed the CVS movement – we’ve been fomenting social change and civil society in Britain for over a century and beaver away in the background. CVSs are currently deeply involved in Social Prescribing, and also champion participatory democracy, the fight for equality and social justice, community health – and civil society. There is some trepidation that the political class want to ‘improve’ civil society. Mutual Aid groups, Black Lives Matter, climate activism, all would suggest that civil society is in rude health and does not need state sponsored ‘improvement’.
Finally, Danny Kruger MP made these comments at launch: “It all adds up to what I call a ‘social covenant’, namely ‘the mutual commitment by citizens, civil society, businesses and the state, each to fulfil their discrete responsibilities and to work together for the common good of all.
This is the gentle revolution we need: conservative radicalism for a time of crisis. I don’t think this agenda belongs to Left or Right and I would like to work with people of good will from across the political spectrum to improve these ideas, and try and make them happen.”
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the report is Kruger’s willingness to engage in a process with us to take the report forward. We are looking forward to it!