Home Office focus on services could deprive groups of campaigning cash

Community activists, campaigning groups and ethnic minority
organisations fear they may be sidelined by the government’s
proposed investment in the voluntary sector infrastructure.

The ChangeUp framework, launched in June, promises £72m to be
spent over the next two years on building the “skills, knowledge,
structures and resources” of the voluntary sector. The Home Office
has made it clear that the investment is primarily designed to help
voluntary groups deliver services and will be “outcome-led”.

“All of this is based on the understanding that the voluntary
sector can deliver outcomes that can’t be served as well by the
market or the state,” Helen Edwards, director general of the Home
Office’s communities group, told the annual conference of the
National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service last week in

However, many community groups fear that their campaigning and
lobbying work will be ignored as it is not considered a service and
cannot be measured against any tangible outcome.

“The community end of the spectrum is being bypassed,” claimed Ben
Hughes, chief executive of the British Association of Settlements
and Social Action Centres.

Jane Slowey, vice-chair of the National Council for Voluntary
Organisations, urged those in the sector implementing ChangeUp to
ensure that the investment benefited all aspects of voluntary work.

“Campaigning skills within the sector are just as important [as
providing services],” she said. “The closer we get to the
government, the more important it is that we nurture what makes us

Jeremy Crook, director of the Black Training and Enterprise Group,
said that ethnic minority groups were at particular risk of missing
out on the benefits of ChangeUp as they were poorly represented on
local and regional networks.

Even when ethnic minorities were involved in bodies such as local
strategic partnerships (LSPs), their views tended to be ignored, he

“The ethnic minority sector is not really engaging in LSPs,” he
said. “They have representation but no influence. They are not
really benefiting from their LSP input.”

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