Our Head of Policy Ben Lloyd explains what we’re doing to stand up for Wales’ voluntary organisations in Westminster since the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important voluntary organisations and volunteers are to communities in Wales, and across the UK. Throughout this difficult time, voluntary organisations have responded to increased hardship across Wales – whether related to health, isolation, poverty, or providing access to arts and leisure remotely.
#NeverMoreNeeded (cyfieithiad: #NawrFwyNagErioed) is a coalition of UK charities – of which WCVA is a member – which has sought to highlight the financial challenges facing charities. The Independent has covered the large number of charities UK-wide which are ‘on the brink.’
And while the voluntary sector is looking to adapt its services to a prolonged public health crisis, and a subsequent recession, it can only manage this if it has the finances to do so.
Recently a number of charities, including WCVA, wrote to UK Government to outline what it could do to support charities at this time. In relation to the current Comprehensive Spending Review, this group asked for:
Policy to ‘level up’ social and economic inequality.
We asked for the Shared Prosperity Fund to invest in employment and skills programmes aimed at addressing economic inequalities within and between communities and to be devolved to Welsh Government. We also asked for a commitment to maintaining international development priorities and to increasing local government funding (although this is a devolved matter).
Stranded assets to be unlocked for community revival.
We want to see UK Government release funds from dormant assets into a community funding scheme (which would be devolved to Wales), and to release funds from the defunct National Fund into UK charities.
In the past we have also advocated that UK Government offer an alternative to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and for a Gift Aid Emergency Relief package.
These proposals would ensure there is additional financial support for the voluntary and community sector during the upcoming period of instability. However, it would also create sustainable sources of new income. In the case of the Shared Prosperity Fund and use of dormant assets, it would also enable the voluntary sector to use its skills to support some of the most vulnerable in society, who can sometimes be missed out of universal programmes.
In the last six months, the voluntary and community sector has shown how much of a difference it can make – and how it can support our communities through challenging times. This support will be diminished if charities are forced to close or downsize, but can be sustained with appropriate partnerships with the public and private sectors.
WCVA will keep you updated as to any response from UK Government.