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Community Right to Challenge and Right to Buy consultations shimAdd News218 to Scrapbook
A number of consultations on the Localism Bill have started. There are two consultations that focus on central aspects of the Localism Bill which both end on 3 May 2011:

► Community Right to Challenge consultation: this right will enable the voluntary and community sector to challenge the way current services are being run: if successful, councils will be expected to retender the service contract. Of all the aspects of the Localism Bill, this Right may make the biggest difference to local VCS groups and local social action. See pages 7-8 of VSNW’s Localism Briefing (#50)
 
 Community Right to Buy consultation: at the moment this right will give local communities extra time to raise funding and consensus in order to take over and save local assets (local shops, pubs and post offices) threatened with closure. At the moment, it’s extra time within the bill, rather than asset transfer. The consultation includes a focus on what support and guidance will be needed.
 
The Localism Bill is currently at the committee stage (line by line review of the latest draft) of its progress through Parliament and you can now make submissions.
 
The Community Right to Challenge is contained in Chapter 3 (sections 66-70) of the latest draft of the Bill (which is being rewritten).
 
Resources:
► The Real Power for Communities campaign (focused on this Bill)
► In the appendix of the VSNW briefing, a suggested draft Decentralisation & Local Voluntary Action Plan
 
Please contact Warren Escadale if you are planning a consultation event or meeting on either: policy@vsnw.org.uk or 07950 162815.
One North West & BME Women's Solidarity Forum respond to David Cameron's speech on multiculturalism shimAdd News216 to Scrapbook

David Cameron's speech on multiculturalism in Munich signalled a major statement from the coalition Government about its thinking on race equality. The Prime Minister said that: 'under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream'.

 

Daniel Silver, One North West & Amina Lone, Women's Solidarity Forum write an analysis of the speech and share concerns with the direction being taken by the Government. This focuses around the linking of race equality with counter-terrorism strategy, the contradictions in the speech when ESOL is being cut dramatically and the potential rise in Islamophobia that could occur


For the article please visit our documents page

Make Big Society Equal: A booklet of case studies from the BME VCS in the North West shimAdd News215 to Scrapbook

This booklet, produced by One North West highlights the excellent work being done throughout the region by BME voluntary and community sector organisations including:

  • Wai Yin Chinese Women Society
  • Manchester Active Voices Youth Empowerment
  • The Congolese Associaiton of Merseyside
  • Inspired Sisters
  • Volunteer Centre Tameside
  • Race Equality Foundation
  • Liverpool BRM Network
  • Awaz (Cumbria)
  • Lancashire Wide Network for Ethnic Minority Women
  • Family Refugee Support Project
  • CHARA Trust
  • Burnley Women's Centre
  • Union Street Media Arts

The document also calls on Government to make Big Society equal around five areas:

  • Listen, value and invest in the BME and BME women's sector
  • Consider the impact of policy on the most vulnerable
  • Ensure minimum standards of access and outcome
  • Ensure equitable commissioning
  • Recognise the importance of grants

For the booklet, please visit our documents page; If you would like hard copies please email: danielsilver@nwnetwork.org.uk

The big society will struggle in Moss Side shimAdd News214 to Scrapbook

Belinda Webb writes in the Guardian: With councils up and down the country being forced to claw back on services through cuts imposed by the government, one of the areas that will be squeezed dry is youth services. This has troubled the Unite union so much that this weekend it held a Rally for Youth Services.

Inner-city youth groups are a lifeline for many urban communities. They save kids from having to create their own "fun" on grim concrete estates, where boredom and frustration quickly turn to trouble. On the Moss Side estate in Manchester where I spent my teen years we had an old field and a pit. This pit usually contained a burnt-out car that had been "borrowed" for a joyride, along with used syringes and anything else you care to imagine. However, in the past decade Moss Side has started to change thanks to a range of youth services, such as the Powerhouse Library. They have worked hard to overturn the decades of despondency that once blighted the area and which featured regularly in both national and regional press. It has meant a real result – the steady decline of crime.

In fact, the more affluent suburban area of Didsbury and Withington came top of the recent figures for the city, with almost twice as many recorded crimes as Moss Side. The news is a sign that this culturally rich area is returning to better days. Once known as "Little Harlem" in honour of its Caribbean population who were invited to work there following the second world war, Moss Side was also home to Irish and Asian communities. The various groups got along and there was a strong sense of community. In the 70s, however, with higher levels of unemployment, drug-dealing gained a stronghold and its effects were soon felt.

Fuelled by the sustained levels of poverty and lack of opportunities, riots erupted in 1981. I was living in a neighbouring area at the time, and the anger of these years, which followed on from riots in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Leeds and Bristol, felt palpable even to my eight-year-old self.

In the early 90s gun crime soared; gangs such as the Gooch and the Doddington became engaged in drug and turf wars, and the police were accused of provoking anger through their response. Moss Side gained the title of "Baby Beirut" and Manchester was soon dubbed "Gunchester" by the mainstream media. There was national shock in 1993 when a family friend, 14-year-old Benji Stanley, was shot through the window of a takeaway shop on Great Western street. Benji's murder, thought to be a case of mistaken identity, brought the spotlight back on to youth disaffection and crime in the area.

By the mid-90s, by which time I had moved away, pessimistic conditions gave way to hard resignation. The police came under increased pressure, aided by sensationalist media coverage – and cruising police vans became a common sight.

Spurts of violence continue. In 2006, 15-year-old Jessie James was tragically shot dead – ironically, close to the Powerhouse Library, the youth group that has worked towards helping to bring down the incidence of crime and anti-social behaviour, now also lower than that of the city as a whole. Jessie's murder is another reminder of the work still to be done in the area. But what has been achieved so far should be applauded; it stands against the Tories' cry of "Broken Britain" which helped them win votes in the last election. On a tour of the area in 2009, the then shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, likened Moss Side to the hit US series The Wire, which is set in Baltimore. The comparison justifiably angered many of the area's residents whose real experience had started to tell a different story.

The only way that youth groups will be saved is if competent volunteers step in. But the big society feels like too big an "if". This morning David Cameron delivered a speech to the "Big Society Network", in which he restated his controversial mission. He would do better to ensure that the good work taking place in Moss Side, and other inner-city areas, continues, so that they're not dragged back to 1981.


From: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/14/big-society-moss-side-inner-cities

Government sets out plans for Big Society Bank shimAdd News213 to Scrapbook

The government has unveiled its new strategy to grow the social investment market, which it says will give charities and social enterprises access to new, potentially multi-billion pound, capital.

 
Growing the social investment market: a vision and strategy explains the role of the Big Society Bank as a proposed cornerstone of the social investment market, attracting more investment from wealthy individuals, charitable foundations and ultimately everyday savers in social ISAs and pension funds. It will be entirely independent of government, and free to decide upon its own investment strategy.
 
It will ultimately be financed by an estimated £400 million from dormant bank accounts, accessing up to £100 million in its first year, as well as an additional £200 million from the UK’s banks. It will act as a wholesaler only, meaning it will not make direct investments in organisations, and will not give grants. It is also expected that the banks' contribution will be lent on a commercial basis. 
 
The document says the bank is expected to have some of its functions in place by April, with the first funds available by the middle of the year
Respublica on Cameron's multiculturalism speech shimAdd News211 to Scrapbook

Respublica Fellow John Millbank writes in a piece entitled: Cameron on Islam, liberalism and multiculturalism

 

"David Cameron's ‘multiculturalism' speech in Berlin has so far generated more heat than light. Its central policy message has been obscured, in part by its own rhetoric. This message is that government support for Islamic organisations who espouse any variant of political Islamism, though not violence in its pursuit, has been a mistake. The aim of this support was to wean Islamists away from violence. But the real effect has been to increase support for Islamism and thereby indirectly for Islamist violence. In any case, as Cameron made clear, even if Islamist objectives are pursued by peaceful means, they are incompatible with European politics, because they involve the idea that Muslims should only be living under an Islamic polity and legality. To support organisations which encourage such views is therefore semi-suicidal.

Many Muslims who oppose Islamism have accordingly come quietly out in support of Cameron's announcement of a crucial policy-change. Also, many on the left, who for a long time have been worried about double-standards being applied to the Islamic right, have welcomed this development.

At the same time, many Muslims and many commentators from all sides of the political spectrum have expressed some unease about Cameron's yoking his new policy to an abandonment of ‘state multiculturalism'.

Here, it seems to me, ‘multiculturalism' lacks clarity as a term and thereby sows argumentative confusion. In essence, Cameron is saying that tolerance of many cultures, as the core approach of the recent past is wrong, because any society and any state requires a strong element of core culture and shared values if it is to function at all. In this he is correct. However, it is not clear that some advocates of a qualified ‘multiculturalism', such as Tariq Modood of Bristol University, a moderate and mainline Muslim academic, would really dissent. All that they are saying is that, under the aegis of a shared, say British culture, there is room (but not infinite room) for much cultural and religious diversity. Moreover, they are also saying that this diversity can contribute to the evolution of the common culture. Indeed they rightly tend to observe that British identity is, for historical reasons, in crisis and they wish to assist in the work of repairing this identity..."

 

The article continues here:

www.respublica.org.uk/blog/2011/02/cameron-islam-liberalism-and-multiculturalism-brief-comment

True multiculturalism acts as a bulwark against further extremism shimAdd News210 to Scrapbook

Dr Rob Berkley of the Runnymede on multiculturalism:

"So we’re back to what is becoming an old chestnut; as the latest senior politician condemns multiculturalism. On Saturday, David Cameron took his place, behind Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Trevor Phillips, arguing that "state multiculturalism” has encouraged "different cultures to live separate lives” with a particular Cameron twist – that the UK needs a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism.

Surely, such a panoply of senior politicians should have been able to organise the end of so-called state multiculturalism by now – unless of course it never existed in the first place, they do not really mean it, or the alternatives are simply too unattractive to countenance.

A key problem in debates around multiculturalism is that the term means different things to different people. Some believe that multiculturalism actively promotes separate religious and ethnic identities at the expense of common values, whilst others believe it simply means the existence and recognition of different identities in a shared political space within a framework of human rights. Runnymede’s understanding of the term has always been the latter."


For the full article: www.leftfootforward.org/2011/02/david-cameron-wrong-on-multiculturalism/

Petition to defend multiculturalism shimAdd News209 to Scrapbook

A petition has been started to defend multiculturalism at:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/defend-multiculturalism/sign.html

 

The petition reads: 'We believe David Cameron’s statement that multiculturalism has failed was a dangerous declaration of intent. David Cameron's speech was reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous 1978 statement that Britain was "being swamped by alien cultures”. He has branded Britain’s Muslims as the new "enemy within” in the same way as Thatcher attacked the miners and trade unions.

David Cameron is attempting to drive a wedge between different communities by linking Britain’s multicultural society with terrorism and national security. David Cameron’s speech was made on the same day as the English Defence League brought its bigotry and violence to the streets of Luton. Mr Cameron’s aim is simple as it is crude - to deflect the anger against his government’s cuts from the bankers and onto the Muslim community.

We the undersigned believe that our multicultural society and the respect and solidarity it is built on is a cause for pride, and reject any moves by this government to undermine and destroy it.

We must not allow this coalition government to turn the tide back to the days when it was acceptable, through ignorance and fear, for people with a different religion, culture or skin colour to be scapegoated and treated as inferior or outsiders.

Initial signatories include:

Martin Smith (Love Music Hate Racism)
Peter Hain MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Ken Livingstone (Politician)
Salma Yaqoob (Councillor and leader of Respect)

Further analysis and commentary can be found here:

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/editorial-david-cameron-multiculturalism-edl


www.irr.org.uk/2011/february/ha000009.html

 

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/06/capitalism-multiculturalism-cameron-flawed-analysis?commentpage=last#end-of-comments





JUST West Yorkshire's work into the impact of cuts on vulnerable communities shimAdd News208 to Scrapbook

JUST West Yorkshire recently met with the 5 West Yorkshire local authorities on the 17th of January to discuss the impact of cuts on vulnerable communities and the decision making process that has been taken. Below is a summary of their key points:

JUST acknowledged the financial pressures bearing down on local authorities in making very difficult decisions that will inevitably lead to public service cuts. However, concerns were expressed about the lack of openness and transparency in local authority decisions around cuts in public services. JUST asserted the need for accessible and meaningful information to ensure that the Voluntary and Community sector is appraised of decisions made by public bodies that impact on their future sustainability and affirmed the role of the Third Sector as integral partners in reshaping public services due to their historical relationship, skills and expertise in working with communities ‘in need.'

 

JUST challenged the West Yorkshire Chief Executives to create those spaces in which the third sector could meaningfully influence the shaping of services, highlighting the crucial leadership role of local authorities in ensuring that decisions on cuts are made exclusively on the basis of need and avoids the rhetoric of Race and Class as this could undermine good race relations.

Freedom of Information Request

JUST and JRCT expressed disappointment that its request for information related to decision-making processes on public service cuts had not been forthcoming. It subsequently had to submit a Freedom of Information request. The FOI information JUST has received has been uneven and a request for a more comprehensive response was made.

 

More information

If you would like to find out more about JUST's approach, please contact admin@justwestyorkshire.co.uk

200 million boost for Big Society Bank: sector verdict shimAdd News207 to Scrapbook

David Cameron today announced a £200 million boost for his Big Society vision revealing a deal thrashed out between the Government and the banks.

He told MPs that the Big Society Bank will take £200 million from financial institutions to invest in the third sector.

During a raucous Prime Minister's question time Cameron said Labour "put money into the banks, we are taking money out of the banks and putting it in to the Big Society".

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Prime Minister's cuts were threatening his flagship policy.

He said Cameron was "cutting too far and too fast and society is becoming smaller and weaker, not bigger and stronger".

But views from the sector were largely positive, though some were highly qualified in their praise.

ACEVO view

Responding to the the extra £200m committed to the Big Society Bank, Sir Stephen Bubb CEO of ACEVO said: "This is good news. It breathes life back in to the Big Society project. If we can marry this much needed spurt of capital with fundamental public service reform, it could ensure the long term growth of the country’s charity sector.”

NCVO view

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, responded to the Prime Minister's announcement: "This is a good start which demonstrates that the Government is listening to the sector’s concerns about the challenges ahead.

"Going forward, a clear timetable for the set-up of bank functions will help the sector to plan with confidence and give a steer on when funding is likely to become available.

"The success of the Bank will also rely on securing sufficient additional private capital, above the amounts available from unclaimed assets, and on the levels of financial capability and investment readiness in the voluntary and community sector."

Social Investment Business view

In turn, The Social Investment Business chief executive Jonathan Lewis, commented: "Today’s announcement is a very welcome move which ensures that when the Big Society Bank opens for business it has significant funds to lend. Just like for SMEs, there is huge appetite from civil society organisations all around the country for more access to loan finance.

"Healthy coffers in its opening months is only the start. This isn’t just a bank that’s being created – it must be a champion for the idea of social investment and kick start transformative growth in the social investment market with new financial products and a new attitude to sector funding.

"The Big Society Bank represents an important move towards recognising that charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations are more than capable of taking on loan finance. Treating them more like the social businesses they are will allow them to plan strategically and become more financially sustainable.”

CAF view

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), said: "An additional £200m for investment in civil society organisations would be very welcome, however, according to the Treasury Statement this money will be provided ‘on a commercial basis’.This leaves the true role of the Big Society Bank even more uncertain.

"Increasingly there seems to be confusion around the role of the Big Society Bank from commentators in both media and political circles, with some suggesting that it will be able to offer direct financial assistance and grants to organisations.

"Today’s announcement, however, confirms that the Big Society Bank will act as a wholesale financial institution working through existing social investment intermediaries.

"More needs to be done to explain how £200m of wholesale finance ‘on a commercial basis’ is going to help the voluntary sector. At best, the impact of the Big Society Bank will be long term rather than immediate, and it is unlikely to solve the problems of the thousands of charities who are currently experiencing difficulties because of increasing demand for their services, difficult economic conditions and funding cuts.

"Social investment is set to play an increasingly important role as part of a diverse funding landscape for the voluntary sector, but it is a very new market and it is still being developed. It is unclear whether the financial needs of many civil society organisations will be met through social investment on purely commercial terms.

"It is important not to raise false expectations and present the Big Society Bank as a financial panacea for the charity sector. Loans must be repaid!”

SEC view

Social Enterprise Coalition chief executive, Peter Holbrook, commented: "This news is to be welcomed with open arms, especially in this financial climate. The Big Society Bank will help deliver a ‘triple bottom line’ of economic, social and environmental wealth in the UK. It could see the social enterprise community grow and strengthen its position. The capital will be in great demand and so the sooner it becomes available the better.”

Speaking on the detail Holbrook added: "It will be important that the Bank is run independently of government and of existing retailers or other intermediaries in the finance market. It should be established with a clear vision of what impact it expects to achieve in the short to medium term.

"Whoever owns and runs the Bank must have the relevant expertise and credentials in finance as well as in the social and environmental fields. They must representative the sector in its entirety.”

new economics foundation view

Though Tony Greenham, head of Business and Finance at nef (new economics foundation) was more scathing. He said: "The very fact that this pantomime has taken place shows that our banking system is not fit for purpose. Do the governments of other countries need to go cap in hand and plead with their banks to do their job?

"Why have no figures or commitments been given for net rather than gross lending by the banks? Gross lending will only boost the economy if it increases faster than loan repayments by borrowers – a net figure is far more meaningful.

"To what extent might some of the additional lending from the 5 banks (including Santander) simply displace lending from other banks?

"The government is still in denial over the real issue that the excessive pay within the banking system is a clear signal of non-competitive and poorly functioning markets where a small number of companies enjoy unmerited economic power. Government continues to dodge the issue of excessive bonuses in what has become a heavily subsidized industry.

"The UK economy needs and deserves a more diverse and resilient banking system, including banks that are much more focused on the vital job of supporting long-term business investment.

"A small number of giant banks, increasingly run by investment bankers focused on speculation in international markets, is not in the best interests of the economy or society.”

 

From: http://www.charitytimes.com/ct/Big_Society_Bank_%20£200_million.php

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