Ben Lloyd provides an update on WCVA’s work with other charities across the UK to make sure the voluntary sector’s voice is heard in Westminster.
WCVA is the Welsh voluntary sector’s voice to power. For over 20 years, we have worked with the Welsh Government and the Senedd to make sure that your voice is heard in Cardiff Bay, to whom many of the issues of concern to our members are devolved. However, there are significant parts of our sector’s work which are deeply affected by decisions in Westminster; including macroeconomic policy, energy support, and charity law itself. We have always felt the needs of Welsh voluntary sector and volunteering, different from its counterparts in the other three regions, need to be heard by Westminster.
A COALITION OF VOICES
We’ve always had a productive relationship with our three sister councils, but there is a wide forum of voices representing the voluntary sector and volunteers. We were pleased to be involved in the coalition of these charities which came together at the start of the pandemic to make the case for political investment in the voluntary sector, and raise the profile of the value of the work the sector was doing. Investment announced by the UK Government was primarily for England, but there was a knock-on effect for the Welsh budget.
Having a voice from Wales – aware of devolution and the unique nature of our sector in Wales – was a valuable part of this discussion.
This group eventually became the UK Civil Society Group and has since coalesced around a number of issues; including representing the need for the UK budget to support the voluntary sector and the people we work with, as well as addressing our specific energy challenges, and tackling racism within the sector. These are issues which are legislated for at a UK-wide level, but where we know our members in Wales will want to part of these discussion. We also know that the UK Government will be more responsive when the voluntary sector across the UK speaks together on these issues.
The announcement of an Energy Price Guarantee specifically mentioned charities in a way that previous funding announcements have not.
BETTER BANKING FOR THE SECTOR
As well as working with our colleagues from across the UK on political matters, we have also played a key role in relaying our concerns around the decline in quality of banking services to the banks themselves. We’ve begun a project with UK Finance to design tools to make some of the banking decisions more transparent and are continuing to work for ongoing dialogue around other issues which affect our members. With most banks in Wales operating across the UK, we know that a co-ordinated approach makes it easier for us to get Wales’ voice heard.
The Civil Society Group has worked as an effective collective voice in discussions with the Charity Commission. Regular meetings have helped develop relations that ensure an active two way flow of information sharing the stresses and strains faced by the sector as well as consideration of the best approaches to align regulation with best inclusive practice on the ground.
We are proud to have had a constructive relationship with the Secretaries of States for Wales, from both parties. But we know that other departments in Westminster, work across a wider geographic area and need to consider how their policies will affect more than one nation. We are determined to be the voice of the Welsh voluntary sector in these discussions, working with a wide range of partners across the UK to make the case the voluntary sector.
We’d love to hear from you about the issues you think we should be prioritising in Westminster. Please let us know by contacting email@example.com.