In a meeting with the voluntary sector, the Minister for Housing and Local Government expressed support for the sector and local government to explore ways in which they can engage together better.
The group discussed the variable state of engagement between local government and the sector, with current mechanisms such as the Future Generations Act and Social Services and Wellbeing Act producing a variable impact. The group proposed a Task and Finish group between the sector and the Welsh Local Government Association in order to explore how this better engagement might look and spread good practice. The Minister expressed support for this idea.
The meeting also discussed the Social Partnership Bill. Initial documentation did now make reference to the sector in the legislation, which aims to bring about the recommendations of the Fair Work Commission and establish a more inclusive Welsh economy ‘in which everyone can thrive’. The mechanism for this would be the formation of a Social Partnership Council, which was proposed to comprise of representatives from the public and private sector, government and trade unions. The voluntary sector wasn’t mentioned; however, the Minister said Welsh Government would find a mechanism to allow the sector to involve the sector, including discussions around any procurement strategy drawn up by the proposed Council.
The voluntary sector met recently with @wgmin_housing to discuss social partnership and sector/local government engagement. @helenehayes1 of Citizens Advice Cymru tells us about it. pic.twitter.com/1yVquHT5GV
— WCVA | CGGC (@WCVACymru) March 20, 2020
The group then closed with a brief discussion about the coronavirus pandemic. WCVA highlighted its loan funding for struggling organisations, while Derek Walker of Wales Coop Centre commented on the need for digital support for people to, for example, use Skype. Helene Hayes of Citizens Advice Cymru commented that those with no savings, low-paid employment or high energy costs are at particular risk. The Minister said she would like to use the sector’s networks to help spread information.
Helene Hayes said: ‘We’re really please the Minister was positive about the role of the voluntary sector in the Social Partnerships Bill, and also about what more the voluntary sector and local government can do together in times of crisis, when we really need those sectors to work together to support people in Wales.’