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Labour peer questions NCVO's lobbying value to the charity sector

Baroness Hayter
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Labour peer questions NCVO's lobbying value to the charity sector 2

Governance | Vibeka Mair | 11 May 2012

Baroness Hayter, the new spokeswoman for the shadow Cabinet Office team in the House of Lords, has criticised NCVO for not lobbying on behalf of the voluntary sector when the Welfare Reform Bill was going through Parliament.

Baroness Hayter was speaking at Acevo’s 25th anniversary lecture last night where she reflected on how civil society had developed over the last quarter of a century.

She said in the past some charities were “deliberately amateur”; governance was deeply underdeveloped; at times charity executives were “a law unto themselves” and charities were more unionised:

“I thought unions were a great strength,” said Baroness Hayter. “But there were also challenges in balancing the needs of trade union membership with clients’ needs.”

Later in her speech, Baroness Hayter said the role of NCVO was similar to that of the Trades Union Congress or CBI for the charity sector, but she questioned whether the umbrella body carried out this role adequately.

“I had not one bit of lobbying from NCVO on the Welfare Reform Bill,” she complained. “I got great help from individual voluntary organisations, such as Disability Alliance UK.

“But I did not have the wider perspective for the voluntary sector. I expected NCVO to produce something on the whole of the welfare system.”

She added that there were questions to be asked on who spoke for charities across the piece.

NCVO responds

Deputy chief executive of NCVO Ben Kernighan told civilsociety.co.uk this morning that the organisation would respond directly to the Baroness:

“We are very sorry that Baroness Hayter feels that way and we will be in touch shortly with her,” he said. “NCVO engages on a range of issues affecting the voluntary sector including welfare reform.”

Charities, especially those supporting people with disabilities, lobbied hard during the Welfare Reform Bill's passage through Parliament.

A group of disability charities, led by the Children’s Society, The government's controversial Welfare Reform Bill passed its final hurdle in the House of Lords this March. The Bill introduces an annual cap on benefits and overhauls many payments within the welfare system.

Commentators have warned that changes to the benefits of disabled people may risk their right to independent living.

Baroness Hayter was one of the founders of Acevo 25 years ago. She has this week been appointed frontbench spokesman for the Labour Party Cabinet Office team in the House of Lords.

Caroline
13 May 2012

Well done Baroness Hayter for raising this issue - NCVO in its bid to appear respectable has lost its campaigning cutting edge. I guess like many major charities it feels that by taking so much money from the government it feels that it cannot criticise it too much or stand up for the people at the bottom of society that need charities to speak up for them (because no one else is going to in this big society).

And 'Sir' Stuart Etherington clearly feels his place is in the governing classes not amongst the hoi-polloi of the charity world and certainly not amongst volunteers and service users.

I think a re-radicalising of the sector is in order - NCVO should renew the charity sector's radical edge. For this to happen 'Sir' Stuart needs to stand aside - an elevation to the Lords perhaps to complete his elevation to the ruling class

Anne Cook
Development Officer
The Crosby Community Association
13 May 2012

I find all to offten the voluntrey sector are asking for there views at various forms,
But are we bring lisened to?
CCA has been providing a free advocacy service to the people of North Lincolnshire since 1994
We live on a knife edge along with many other voluntreey sector organisations fighting for funding to deliver a much needed service to the public.
I ask is it not time the goverment realise nothing comes free there are always overheads to be paid.
Utilitys, postage, Telephone, Admin, Audits, Training for volunteers and paid staff.
Sorry but we work in partnership with many organisations in and around North Lincolnshire who are under pressure to servive.
What happened to the big socity?



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