nonprofit digital engagement & communications consultant, social media evangelist, social entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Charity Commission consults on regulation of common investment funds
The commission invites comments on changes to its model schemes governing CIFs, brought about by a European Union directive
Charity Retail Association puts together five-point plan for Welsh high streets
A response to Welsh government plans to cut business rate relief, the plan is intended as a compromise that would not 'punish and penalise charities unfairly'
Etherington criticises ministers' 'blatant indifference' to the voluntary sector
The NCVO chief executive says the government's approach to consultation means that charity expertise has been ignored
NCVO to publish details of spending on lobbying and meetings with ministers
Sir Stuart Etherington, its chief executive, says the sector should set the 'gold standard' on transparency about lobbying
Tate director made a companion of honour in Queen's birthday honours list
Sir Nicholas Serota given honour held by only 41 other people, while Charity Bank founder Malcolm Hayday and Big Society Capital's Caroline Mason are among those receiving CBEs
National media briefing: Age UK, Plantlife, Kidscape and Target Ovarian Cancer
Charities in today's national news
ACRE: Chief Executive, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE)
c£50,000, negotiable depending on experience: ACRE: Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) is the national umbrella body for the 38 charitable local development agencies that make up the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN). Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Flow Caritas: Temporary Sponsorship Manager
£30000 per annum: Flow Caritas: A temporary opportunity to work with a well-known charity to bring in sponsorship for an awards ceremony. London
Flow Caritas: Data Insights Manager
£38000 per annum: Flow Caritas: An excellent chance to join a prestigious organisation in an increasingly important role. London
Flow Caritas: Philanthropic Partnerships Team Manager (11 month contract)
£40000 per annum: Flow Caritas: A rare chance to work with an international development charity leading their Trusts and Major Donor fundraisers London
Research Communications Officer - Multiple Sclerosis Society (between £26,696 - £30,759 + ex, Greater London)
Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater London, between £26,696 - £30,759 + ex
At the MS Society we put people affected by MS at the centre of everything we do, and it’s this commitment that unites us across the UK. Our wor...
17 June 2013
Joe Irvin, NAVCA’s Chief Executive, told CFG’s Northern Conference that the Government needs to allow greater flexibility over pensions to prevent mergers being thwarted and charities existence being threatened. Joe delivered the closing plenary speech at the Northern 2013 held by CFG at the Renaissance Hotel, Manchester (13 June). The conference is an annual event for charity finance professionals with speakers from businesses and charities.
Joe was asked to talk about the merger process that NAVCA and Community Matters had explored. Despite strong support from members, these merger talks ended due to potential pension liabilities. The issue is pension deficits in multi-employer schemes. Charities that withdraws are usually made to pay the whole deficit at once. Significant structural changes to an organisation, such as a merger, is often treated as a withdrawal. This crystallises the debt.
Joe Irvin said
“I’m pleased DWP minister Steve Webb MP seems to be taking this seriously and talking with us. But we need action. This is affecting charities both large and small.”
“There is one specific action I would like to see the Government take. In 2013 Budget the Chancellor said government will provide the Pensions Regulator with a new objective to support scheme funding arrangements that are compatible with sustainable growth for the sponsoring employer and fully consistent with the 2004 funding legislation. We need to be sure this works for not for profit organisations not just private companies.”
Read more about this at Third Sector online (this link takes you to an external website)Read this post in full
12 June 2013
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, yesterday led a delegation of NAVCA members to give evidence to the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector. In his evidence Joe cited gagging clauses in the work programme as one of the worst example of charities independence being wilfully attacked. The Panel is made up of senior charity experts and was established by the Baring Foundation because of continued concerns about charities’ independence.
NAVCA members’ evidence is significant because the role played by local support and development organisations in brokering relationships between sectors. Joe acknowledged that infrastructure bodies can do more to articulate the needs of small charities to government. In his evidence Joe Irvin stressed positive examples of good practice. He also called for Best Value Guidance to be extended beyond local authorities to apply to all relevant public bodies and that although the Compact is too often ignored it is a valuable tool.
Joe Irvin told the panel;
“The rights of voluntary organisations to campaign is vital to forming good policy and helping the people we serve. We welcome the Panel’s proposal for a debate to identify what makes the sector distinctive and independent and to build a consensus about what would best protect it. NAVCA articulates the distinctive value of the voluntary sector and can often express concerns without some of the pressure that local bodies may feel. Our members do the same at local level.”
On the Work programme, Joe said;
“The Work Programme is a serious concern. The recent Public Accounts Committee report confirmed practices of ‘cherry picking‘ and ‘parking’ hard to place clients. The net result seems to be that unemployed people are not being served well enough by the scheme. We regard gagging clauses as excessive and has the potential to suppress vital information.”
On the Compact, Joe said;
“Where the Compact works, it can work well. The Compact Voice survey showed 80% of those involved feel the Compact is important. But both the National Audit Office and Compact Voice have found that some 40% of local authorities were not following consultation processes set out in the Compact. Good relationship must be underpinned by a living, breathing partnership based on trust and engagement.”
On Best Value, Joe said;
“Best value guidance should be extended beyond local authorities, to other bodies like the new health and policing organisations. Surely the same ‘reasonable expectations’ that local authorities must follow to respect charities and community groups should apply to all public bodies.”Read this post in full
09 May 2013
NAVCA has published the findings of our fourth quarterly survey of members. The survey takes the temperature of NAVCA members and tracks trends in local voluntary action. NAVCA has a representative panel of members who we ask to complete a short survey every three months. The survey tracks trends among NAVCA members. The first survey took place in July 2012.
08 May 2013
NAVCA has supported calls for the Charity Commission to take stronger action to protect the public respect and trust for charities. Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, has today said that the Charity Commission must learn from the mistakes it made in the recent Cup Trust tax-avoidance case. He has called for the Commission to show more teeth in order to rebuild its credibility with the sector and with Government, and to regain respect.
The Cup Trust scandal broke earlier this year when it emerged that the charity raised £176 million in two years but only gave out £55,000 to good causes. Despite the Cup Trust doing little charitable work, donors were able to avoid £46 million of tax using Gift Aid incentives. The Charity Commission has been criticised for failing to take action and Parliament has asked the National Audit Office to study the Commission’s regulatory conduct.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA said,
“I agree with Sir Stuart’s concern about the charity commission’s apparently timid handling of the Cup Trust case. Charities enjoy an enormous level of public support. But reputations can be trashed quite quickly by a few high profile cases.”
“For small local community organisations having a charity registration number is a vital mark of confidence when asking for public donations or funding from public bodies or foundations. We rely on the independent charity commission to root out questionable behaviour in order to maintain public trust.”Read this post in full
25 April 2013
The Department of Health has announced that NAVCA is one of the 21 voluntary sector organisations that will be part of the Health and Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partner Programme for 2013-14. This strengthens the support NAVCA can offer members to build the capacity and capability of local charities and community groups. It will also help NAVCA members get their views heard by the Department of Health, about how to best support local voluntary action.
The programme provides a way for policy makers to reach hundreds of thousands of small charities and community groups. NAVCA being a strategic partner shows that the Department of Health values the reach of NAVCA members. It also reflects the fact that health and care is an increasingly important part of many NAVCA members work. NAVCA members are play a key role in almost a third of the new local Healthwatch organisations, set up to give local people a say over local health services.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“We’re delighted that NAVCA has been chosen to be a health and care strategic partner. This is recognition of the reach of NAVCA members and the role they play to get people involved in the design and delivery of local health and social care services.”
“Our members make sure the voices of local charities and community groups are heard. As a strategic partner, NAVCA will bring the local intelligence they gather to bear on the national debate. Our members are a bridge between local groups and statutory health bodies and will give DH, NHSE and PHE a unique perspective on the relationship between local public bodies and charities and community groups.”Read this post in full
19 April 2013
NAVCA is concerned by comments reported yesterday from Ceri Doyle, director of strategy, performance and learning at the Big Lottery Fund, that BIG will be looking at the principle of additionality and producing a policy. The comments were made at a funding conference earlier this week. Additionality is a fundamental principle under-pinning the lottery and NAVCA believes that if it is to be changed a wide ranging debate is needed first.
The principle was first laid out by John Major’s Government in the 1992 White Paper that paved the way for the creation of the National Lottery. John Major recognised that Sport, Arts and Heritage play a vital part in the daily lives of most people but they would struggle to compete with the demands of health, education and defence for Government funds. In 1994 the year of the very first lottery grant, John Major said that “the money raised by the Lottery will not replace public expenditure.”
The National Lottery Act 2006 wrote the additionality principle into legislation. Lottery Distributors are currently required to outline the ways in which they ensure that Lottery funding does not act as a replacement for government funds.
Joe Irvin, NAVCA’s Chief Executive, said;
“This was a highly contentious issue when the Lottery was established, and the legislation only got though once the government promised that Lottery money would go to ‘good causes’, not to prop up government spending on public services. The principle was established in the 1992 White Paper and later enshrined in statute.”
“The failure so far to pay back as promised the millions of pounds Government ‘borrowed’ from the Lottery to pay for the Olympics (highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee today) only adds to concerns.”
“Lottery money comes from the people who buy tickets. There is a general understanding that the money raised will go to good causes that the state won’t fund. If there is to be a rethink this should be done by asking both the public who buy lottery tickets and the thousands of small charities and community groups who benefit from lottery funding what they think.”Read this post in full
16 April 2013
NAVCA warmly welcomes the launch of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) at 10 Downing Street on 15 April 2013. This follows the signing of a contract on 5 February 2013 between the Department for Education and the Early Intervention Foundation Consortium led by 4Children, which includes NAVCA and the Local Government Association. The EIF has been established to champion and support greater use of early intervention approaches. The EIF initiative has received widespread, cross-party support.
The EIF will
Early Intervention identifies the early symptoms of social problems and then tackles the root causes - such as drink and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, low educational attainment, poor parenting and unemployment – by giving every baby, child and young person the social and emotional skills necessary to enable them to fulfil their potential. Tackling the cause of the problem breaks the intergenerational cycles of dysfunction and reduces later costs to the taxpayer as well as non-financial costs to society as a whole.
Further information:Read this post in full
11 April 2013
One of the things we’re currently talking to members about is improving membership schemes alongside other income generation activities. Bill Freeman has written the first of two blogs sharing ideas and approaches members can use to improve their membership schemes. The first blog, published today, looks at the benefits of being a membership association and how to reconcile the need to work with members and a broader range of groups.
We have created a framework to help you identify how to make more of your membership schemes and can use this to help you generate ideas and create the building blocks of a new business plan for your scheme.
If you received BIG Assist vouchers then this might be the perfect way to spend them. We understand that another 40 organisations have been awarded vouchers from the Big Assist programme. We are one of the approved suppliers, so if you are one of those organisations please invite us to make a proposal on how we can help you get the most value from your voucher.Read this post in full
20 March 2013
Following the Budget announcement by George Osborne today,Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“We welcome the fact that charities that employ staff will benefit from the proposal that employers’ national insurance will be cut from April next year. However, we feel that George Osborne has missed a bigger opportunity. He could have demonstrated he understands that as well as providing vital support to communities, local charities and voluntary organisations that can help get our local economies moving.”
“We would have liked to see an investment fund to specifically help micro social enterprise and local charities to generate growth in the poorest areas. We didn’t get this and now need to see how the Lord Heseltine’s proposal to stimulate the economy by creating local growth deals with Local Enterprise Partnership can be used to support local charities and social enterprises.”
The key points from the Budget
20 March 2013
NAVCA has welcomed new guidance, Local Healthwatch Regulations Explained, published by the Department of Health and the Local Government Association. NAVCA was concerned that the regulations were unclear and might lead some to conclude that they might prevent a local Healthwatch engaging in local campaigns. We have worked with the DH and LGA to get clarification in this guidance that campaigning is a legitimate and vital role for local Healthwatch.
NAVCA has released a podcast in which Neil Cleeveley, their Director of Policy and Communications, welcomes the new guidance.
In the podcast Neil Cleeveley says;
“There was not enough explanation at the time about what the regulations meant for local Healthwatch particularly in relation to campaigning.”
“This guidance helps and clarifies the regulations and makes clear to everyone that Local Healthwatch is here to campaign on behalf of local people.”Read this post in full
18 March 2013
NAVCA is giving its support to the Ethical Care Charter drawn up by UNISON. The Charter establishes a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of homecare and local authorities are being invited to sign up to the Charter. NAVCA has a long record of encouraging intelligent commissioning and has been an outspoken promoter of issues such as grant funding and social value.
Charities are important providers of care to support independent living. Research commissioned by UNISON identified commissioning practices pushing costs down at the expense of both the standard of care and the working conditions of those delivering care. The research found that rushed home visits are a false economy as they result in a greater likelihood of falls, medication errors and deterioration through loneliness. NAVCA believes these short-sighted, poor commissioning practices create the greatest disadvantage for mission-led organisations like charities which are reluctant to sacrifice quality for cost.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said
“We support the Ethical Care Charter as it brings together those receiving care and their families with the people providing the care. They all want the same thing, a high standard of care that put the person needing care at its heart.
“I hope that local councils feel able to sign up to this Charter. People who need care in their home deserve high quality support not a ‘race to the bottom’ where price is everything. Commissioners should consider the real cost of poor homecare, which can often result in premature admission to a residential home or hospital. |Commissioners should also recognise the extra ‘social value’ charities bring to people-centred services such as homecare.”
Read the UNISON Ethical Care Charter (link takes you to the UNISON website)Read this post in full
14 March 2013
Local authorities are finalising their budgets for 2013-14. NAVCA has joined with ACEVO, NAVCA and Compact Voice to write to them all asking that they consider the value of voluntary and community organisations in delivering services and support to their local communities. They have also urged them to continue to support this vital work.
The four charities say that they understand the pressures on local budgets but the letter reminds them of their duties under Best Value Guidance and the Compact. This will mean they follow fair and appropriate processes when making changes to their funding relationships with organisations which will help charities and voluntary organisations to manage the impact of any changes.
Read the full letter (pdf 350kb)Read this post in full
13 March 2013
With the budget just a week away, NAVCA and Locality have called for the Chancellor George Osborne to create a fund to help micro social enterprise and local charities generate growth in the poorest areas. To tackle the stalling economic growth, they want a fund of £150 million to provide £3 million growth funding to the 50 most deprived areas in England.
NAVCA and Locality originally called for this fund in an Autumn Statement submission to the Chancellor last year. It noted then that for the first time since the 1960’s there was no national government regeneration programme for the areas of greatest deprivation. In response to this proposal in November 2012, the Treasury Minister Sajid Javid, said “While I am supportive of your ideas in principle, we… cannot give any firm reassurances on your ideas at present.”
Since then, economic growth has stalled and there are fears of a triple dip recession. Moreover, a report published by IPPR North called ‘Taken for Granted’ confirms small voluntary organisations in the most deprived areas have been hit hardest by public spending cuts.
The fund would boost growth by enabling local and neighbourhood community organisations and social enterprises to scale up their operations. This would create jobs and generate profits to be reinvested locally. It would support the creation of community or neighbourhood bonds to encourage social investment. It is a low-cost way of injecting resources into wealth creating social organisations in the most deprived communities and helping people who are furthest from the labour market. NAVCA and Locality believe that it could save the Exchequer money because the work of community organisations and social enterprises often involves intervening early to solve future problems.
Steve Wyler, Chief Executive of Locality, said;
“In neighbourhoods across the country there are many hundreds of community organisations with a can-do entrepreneurial attitude capable of acting as drivers for growth from the bottom up. An injection of social investment would be a much needed shot in the arm - stimulating ‘people power’ to bring untapped resources into productive use, stimulating economic activity and mobilising a coalition of the willing to turn round struggling communities.”
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“I really hope the Chancellor seizes this opportunity to help people in the most deprived areas. It will allow charities and social enterprise to boost jobs and revive the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Investing in local charities and social enterprises can be one of the quickest and most cost effective ways of helping the most deprived parts of our country. And because they tend to spend locally, the initial investment will generate a boost to the local economy.”Read this post in full
07 March 2013
There are also competing local initiatives which could make improving infrastructure services across England more difficult. For example, the planned development of different local performance frameworks for infrastructure services could hinder work to improve the quality of commissioning of infrastructure services across the country if there is no common view of the standard providers should be working to.
Joe Irvin, NAVCA’s Chief Executive, said;
“The report provides a fascinating insight into the work going on up and down the country to transform voluntary sector infrastructure services. NAVCA members are changing how they operate to ensure the people they work with get the best support possible. This report provides valuable learning to all those organisations involved in delivering TLI funded work as well as NAVCA members dealing with similar issues without TLI funding.”
“This is a timely report, as there is currently a debate taking place about whether the tight timetables for TLI are tenable. We hope that some discretion can be applied on a case-by-case basis if it can be shown that a little flexibility provides a real advantage for taxpayers.”
“More importantly, this report highlights the type of work that TLI is supporting. We know that areas that did not receive this funding are facing exactly the same issues. How are these areas going to be supported? Big Assist may offer some support but it won’t offer enough to any one area to create opportunities for transformation on the scale that TLI has provided.”Read this post in full
04 March 2013
Having thoroughly investigated all options, NAVCA and Community Matters have announced that the proposed merger between the two organisations will not proceed. They will both now plan their futures as separate organisations. Both bodies have rising pension debt on withdrawal with the Pensions Trust and after a detailed appraisal of the situation, both felt unable to pursue a merger for fear that a merged organisation would be hindered by pension deficits with the potential to escalate.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“We have worked hard at these discussions and our trustees saw real benefits in bringing our members together for the benefit of local communities. But though we had overcome most of the obstacles that often prevent merger, we were scuppered by concerns about the rising pension debt. This is an escalating problem throughout the sector and something must be done about it.”
Alan Lloyd, Community Matters Chair and himself a CVS Chief Officer said;
“Both our organisations are naturally disappointed that we have not been able to make this merger work as together we could have created a stronger voice for the local voluntary and community sector. Community Matters has considered its future and listened to its members. We are impressed by the enormous value they place on our services for the sector. As a result, we’ve decided to restructure our operation to enable us to continue our work as a stand-alone body. Our members are everything to us and we are determined to retain the core advice and information services that they expect from us.”
Community Matters Chief Executive, David Tyler said;
“I have great confidence that these changes will position Community Matters to survive and thrive in these austere times and to get closer to our members and the local agencies they work with. I will personally be stepping aside to facilitate this move but will retain a keen interest in the organisation’s future.”
Caroline Schwaller, Chair of NAVCA, said;
“Obviously we are really disappointed that we have not been able to go ahead with this merger despite working hard and in good faith to make it happen. We will continue supporting and representing our members and speaking up for local voluntary and community action. In doing this there is much scope for us to continue working together in our common causes as friendly sister organisations.”Read this post in full
26 February 2013
NAVCA, NCVO and the Charity Finance Group have written a joint response to the government’s ‘pensions and growth’ consultation. The consultation response has been submitted along with a letter to DWP Minister Steve Webb MP telling him that pension liabilities are having a detrimental impact on charities across the country.
The letter says that many charities originally entered into pension schemes in good faith. But, as economic conditions worsen, are ultimately the unintended victims of schemes designed for corporate entities which are wholly unsuitable for charities as non-associated employers. The three charities urge the Government to act with urgency to address this perilous situation that many of the small organisations at the heart of their communities, find themselves in. In particular, they ask Government to:
15 February 2013
NAVCA has responded to the Government’s consultation on measuring child poverty. The Government is seeking to introduce a single national child poverty measure that draws on various dimensions of poverty. In principle NAVCA believes that a multidimensional approach is the right one, as it is important to have an understanding of the various aspects of child poverty. We have significant reservations, however, about the detail of the methodology and content of the multidimensional measure proposed by the Government. We have five particular concerns that we raise within our response:
13 February 2013
NAVCA has published the results of its third quarterly survey of members. The survey takes the temperature of NAVCA members and tracks trends in local voluntary action. Overall the survey shows a drop in optimism among NAVCA members view of the prospects over the coming three months. However, there is still a strong desire for more collaboration and work with other charities and relationships with local statutory bodies continue to show improvements.
Other findings from the latest survey are:
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“It is not good to see our members feeling less optimistic; however this apprehension is perfectly understandable as they are working in a really tough funding environment. I know many local charities and community groups get a lot from the positive and can-do attitude of our members. We at NAVCA are determined to support our members through these difficult times.
“And it’s great to see our members working so hard to improve local relationships. This survey shows relationships with local councils and health bodies are improving. Local Healthwatch means our members have a growing role in getting local people involved in the design and delivery of their health and social care services.”Read this post in full
06 February 2013
NAVCA are delighted that the Department for Education and the Early Intervention Foundation Consortium, have signed a contract which will see the creation of an independent Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) on 4 March. NAVCA is a supporter of the foundation, chaired by MP Graham Allen.
The EIF will champion early intervention and provide advice and support to local commissioners on evidence, social finance and payment-by-results, to help them choose early intervention programmes. It will also gather evidence and research for what works for early intervention in the UK.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“Early intervention can dramatically improve lives, tackle child poverty and improve people’s health. Much of the work of local charities and voluntary groups concerns itself with early intervention. We believe local and small scale charities can play a big part in successful early interventions and NAVCA members do a lot of work with local commissioners to unlock this potential.”
“This is why we have supported this work and why we are so pleased that the new Foundation will shortly launch. Graham Allen has done a terrific job making this foundation a reality and we look forward to being part of this work to promote the benefits of investing on early intervention.”Read this post in full
06 February 2013
NAVCA believes the Francis Report highlights a need for public bodies to work with local charities and community groups.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;
“There are many lessons to learn here and the report needs a considered and thorough-going response. NAVCA is dismayed that the concerns of patients and local people were ignored. Public bodies must never take the attitude that they simply know best. The best public services involve local people in their design and delivery. That makes for more responsiveness, spotlights improvements and helps plan for change in the future.”
“Local charities and community groups can connect decision makers with local people and communities. Their involvement in local Healthwatch will be crucial in ensuring local communities are involved in making their health services more responsive to people’s needs.”Read this post in full