Charity reaction to Kruger report: 'It is critical that government now acts’

24 Sep 2020 News

Fergus Burnett

Charities have said they are pleased with Danny Kruger's recommendations to support communities, but note that the prime minister has not commited to acting on most of them.

Boris Johnson had asked Kruger, an MP and former charity leader, to review how the government can make the most of the voluntary sector in the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, Levelling Up Our Communities: Proposals for a New Social Covenant, “sets out a vision for a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhood”.

In response to the report, Boris Johnson said: “We have seen tremendous levels of voluntary action by private citizens, and of innovation and partnership between the public, private and social sectors. These are critical elements of the social model we want to see for the recovery, and into the future.”

ACEVO: ‘Kruger’s report lays out a Conservative vision for strengthening civil society’

A spokesperson for ACEVO said: “Danny Kruger’s report lays out a Conservative vision for strengthening civil society in communities. He listened to a wide range of people and organisations in compiling the report, including ACEVO, and we are pleased to see a number of our recommendations reflected in it.

“These include unlocking the National Fund to support communities, using the £2bn of dormant assets to create a new permanent community endowment, improving the commissioning of services, and asking government to legislate for employers to give people time off for trustee work.

“While we don’t align with everything suggested in the report, ACEVO is committed to working with Danny Kruger to build cross-party support for those objectives that will help the communities and causes our members serve. We will also continue to advocate for those organisations, for example international charities and large medical research charities, to whom the recommendations in the report may be less directly relevant.

“To achieve our shared objectives, there will need to be broad political support, and in particular support from the government. Danny Kruger has a strong relationship with the prime minister, but the ambition in this document can only be realised with ministerial and broader cross-party backbench support.

“Without that there is a risk that this document, like the Civil Society Strategy, will get lost without its potential being realised.”

NCVO: ‘It’s a comprehensive piece of work. Not everyone will agree with all the proposals’

Karl Wilding, chief executive of NCVO said: “I’m grateful to Danny for his wide-ranging and thoughtful report. We agree with his assessment that given the right support charities and volunteers are integral to supporting communities during the next wave of coronavirus and during the long recovery period that will follow.

“The recognition that charities need more financial support is very important and I hope this will be taken seriously by the chancellor as he sets out his winter economy plan and starts to think about the longer-term financial support for the country.

“Many of the ideas in the report chime with things that we and others have long pushed for, pushing forward on local endowments, releasing the money contained in the National Fund and using the Gift Aid system to leverage more funds.

“It’s a comprehensive piece of work. Not everyone will agree with all the proposals, I hope we can debate these on their merits and reignite a more substantive conversation about the role of charities and volunteering and the public policy framework needed to support it.”

NPC: ‘We hope the government takes recommendations seriously and involves charities’

Tom Collinge, policy manager at NPC, said: “We welcome Danny Kruger’s wide ranging report which includes many proposals NPC has long advocated for, such as Data Labs, publishing data, and a commitment to social infrastructure. 

“It would have been good to see more help for charities to evaluate their impact, but overall Danny’s recommendations are clear on the need for better use of data, evidence of impact and understanding of place among charities, funders and government. We hope the government takes them seriously and involves charities properly to make ‘levelling up’ fair, social and community led.” 

Bond: 'Official development assistance should not be spent on a campaign for the world’s super-rich to invest'

Simon Starling, director of policy, advocacy and research at Bond, said: “Philanthropy is an important part of development finance, but official development assistance should not be spent on a 'campaign for the world’s super-rich to invest their philanthropic funds in London'. UK aid is entrusted by both the British public and the people we seek to help to be transparent and go to those who need it the most – communities that are facing conflict, disease, climate change, poverty and inequality.

“It’s also a shame there isn’t any mention of the 6,800 plus charities in the UK, supported by local communities, that work internationally to deliver help to people around the world. The vast majority of these are small, community based organisations that are already struggling to meet the increased demand for their help due to Covid-19 and at a time when their funding is drying up.” 

Power to Change: ‘Pleased the report recognises how integral communities have been’

Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, said: “The publication of Danny Kruger’s report couldn’t be more timely, as the country faces a second and potentially more devastating wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m so pleased the report recognises how integral communities have been to our national response to Covid-19 and understands the opportunities for communities to play a central role in our longer-term recovery.

“I’m delighted the report recognises the importance of returning power to local people and the need for investment in communities through a dedicated fund. The proposed Community Ownership Fund would give communities greater access and ownership of their buildings and act as a significant driver of regeneration but also help build a fairer, more connected society.”

360Giving: 'The report recognises the value in the government sharing its own data'

Fran Perrin, Founder and Chair of 360Giving, said: “It’s fantastic that the report recognises the value in the government sharing its own data and making it available to support analysis and collaboration by other funders through tools like GrantNav. 

“The government adopted the 360Giving Data Standard for all grants data in 2018 and we would like to see an acceleration in the government data being published and made available, delivering on previous commitments.

“Data is an asset that if opened up has the power to transform grantmaking and how funders, charities and government can work together. Making this grant information easier to access and use will help us gain a better understanding of the important work being undertaken in communities and how it is supported.

“Over 150 of the UK’s leading grantmakers are now sharing more than £32bn worth of data on who, where and what they fund using the 360Giving Data Standard, which means the information can be searched and analysed. 

“We welcome the proposal in the report to legislate to require foundations benefiting from tax reliefs to share their data openly in the 360Giving Data Standard.

“Alongside the publication of the government grants data, this comprehensive data picture will support more effective grantmaking in the future – and improve insight and collaboration for any future crisis.”

Locality: 'The prime minister has welcomed the report – but has yet to commit to acting on it'

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said: "To truly level up the country and help our recovery from the pandemic, the government cannot rely on the levers of Whitehall. Instead it must embrace a radical community power agenda and provide the investment and support required to unlock its potential. It's heartening to see Danny Kruger's report to the prime minister advocate so clearly for this vision. There is much in the report to get behind  - including many ideas Locality have been championing.

“The prime minister has welcomed the report – but has yet to commit to acting on it. The government mustn’t let the ideas and recommendations in this report drift, nor the need to work with civil society to scrutinise and implement them. Recent years have seen a merry-go-round of national reports that have called for change that have led nowhere.

“We cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to take the urgent action our communities need. As we head into winter and all that that might bring, many of our communities and the essential organisations that support them face an incredible challenge to continue their vital work in hugely difficult circumstances.

“The government has real, practical opportunities to act now to strengthen our social infrastructure, bolster our community’s resilience, and embed community power for decades to come.”

CFG: 'We now need the government to start putting in place the infrastructure'

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive at CFG, said: “CFG broadly welcomes Danny Kruger' MP's long-awaited report. It is heartening to see that he has recognised the crucial value of charities and social enterprise in our country’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, and the role they will continue to play in the future of our communities.

“Kruger has rightly pointed out that the Treasury's £750m grant to the charity sector was a lifeline earlier this year, and we welcome his recommendation that government now needs to go further still.

“The proposal to launch new funds for Covid-19 recovery and longer-term investment is one that we also welcome, as is his recognition that the government can go much further by making changes to the Gift Aid regime and tax treatment of charitable bequests.

“Kruger’s report is a clear indication to government that civil society and social enterprises are a vital component in our country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and crucial in ‘building back better’.

“If government is to truly deliver on its pledge to ‘level up’, it must now take these important recommendations and work hand-in-glove with #NeverMoreNeeded civil society.

“We hope that Kruger’s report will mark the beginnings of a vital dialogue between government, charities, social enterprises and wider civil society. Talk is one thing; we now need the government to start putting in place the infrastructure required, and back that with those desperately-needed funds.”

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales: ‘It is critical that government now acts’

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy, communications and research at Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said: “We welcome this review and the prime minister’s endorsement of it. Danny Kruger rightly highlights the critical role of local charities, embedded in communities and that we risk losing some brilliant and essential organisations without new support. 

“Charities are never more needed but are facing tremendous pressures to help more people and in different ways when so much of their income has been lost as a result of the crisis. If we as a society are to overcome Covid and build back better, and if the government is to meet its own levelling up ambition, it is critical that it now acts upon this review. 

“Charities need support and new sources of funding now, such as through the proposed Community Recovery Fund, and longer term through the proposed Levelling Up Communities Fund using dormant assets to put funding in the hands of communities and the charities working with them.

“The need is clear, we urge the government to not delay and to work with charities to implement these recommendations.”

Pro Bono Economics: ‘Welcome spotlight on the pivotal role civil society should play

Matt Whittaker, chief executive at Pro Bono Economics, said: “As the country wrestles with how to recover from coronavirus, Danny Kruger has shone a welcome spotlight on the pivotal role civil society should play. This review is clearly the product of broad consultation, and identifies many of the barriers that need overcoming if civil society is to deliver its full potential.

“Ideas for accelerating improvements to the data the UK holds on the social sector would – if implemented – help revolutionise policymaking and enable charities and social enterprises to have greater impact. The focus on boosting volunteering, philanthropic giving and social value means the review covers some of the most important themes for supporting civil society to do even more.

“When government turns to considering which recommendations to implement, urgent attention must be paid to how to funnel more resources into the sector. Our research shows the recession driving greater demand for charity services, with the sector facing a £10bn funding gap this year.

“But it’s right that we look beyond the immediate challenges too, and the review identifies a number of important questions relating to the longer-term functioning of civil society. These are themes which the Law Family Commission on Civil Society will be sure to return to when it launches later this year.”

UnLtd: 'These measures are needed now, in full'

Mark Norbury chief executive at UnLtd said: “Danny’s far reaching proposals are extremely welcome as we look to transform a broken status quo and together create a more purposeful and inclusive economy. These measures are needed now, in full. They must be implemented swiftly to support communities and social businesses badly hit by the current crisis. We know the £18.7m Social Enterprise Support Fund has been critical to so many, and there’s much more we can do.”

Royal Society for Arts: ‘This is courageous stuff’

Asheem Singh, director of economy at The Royal Society for Arts (RSA), said: “ Many of the ideas in Danny Kruger’s report are ‘big society’ classics lightly remixed in the trendy language of levelling up.”

He added: “Some ideas are worth pursuing. The idea for a national volunteer reserve first emerged in ACEVO’s 2015 general election manifesto as a voluntary response executive (vortex).

“Kruger’s call for more emergency grant funding and long-term funding for charities will be welcomed, though there is predictably few mechanisms to hold the chancellor’s already frazzled feet to the fire. The sector often sniffs, but social and impact investment can be usefully catalysed by intentional government action.

“What’s interesting are the contortions Kruger has to get through to make his case. I’ve never seen such a politician publically rebuke his own party so overtly. The report is absolutely scathing of a decade of Conservative economic management.

“Kruger stresses that median incomes have not increased to pre-2008 levels, that wage growth has been at its lowest in 200 years in the last decade. This is courageous stuff.”

St John Ambulance: ‘We look forward to contributing’ 

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive at St John Ambulance, said: “St John Ambulance welcomes the overall vision of this report, for volunteers to form a recognised and permanent part of the essential infrastructure of our nation – and are grateful for the hard work of Danny Kruger and Baroness Barran in working with the sector to develop this vision.  

“We also welcome recognition of the particular role St John Ambulance has played and will continue to play in supporting the NHS in national health emergencies. The unique skills, expertise and motivation of St John volunteers has enabled us to give vital assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic so far, in hospitals, on ambulances and in communities up and down the country.  

“The idea of a National Volunteer Reserve of citizens ready to step forward in emergencies is timely and essential; we look forward to discussing how we can build on St John Ambulance’s role as the health reserve to the nation during this crisis and increase community resilience for the future.   

“Furthermore, we would draw attention to the report’s reference to Emergency Volunteer Leave (EVL), the provision that would allow employees to take time off work for critical volunteering without losing income. We are actively engaging with government officials to unlock EVL, to support St John volunteers to give the vital hours and days to the level that the nation needs in response to the growing second wave of Covid-19 infections.  

“Finally, as one of the country’s largest youth organisations, we look forward to contributing further to the wider debate on how to create opportunities for young people in their communities through volunteering – something we have been doing for a long time and is core to our future community vision.” 

UK Youth: 'Young people need critical support now. We have to act.'

Ndidi Okezie, chief executive of UK Youth said: “This is a detailed report with a lot to digest. We're pleased that there's acknowledgement of the important role young people play in society and the stark challenges they face, as well as the importance of co-development with young people vs solutions being “done to” them.

“We look forward to continuing to connect fovernment with the expertise across the youth sector and working to progress key ideas as reports and recommendations continue to come through. The undeniable truth is that financial investment in supporting young people is #NeverMoreNeeded than now. We cannot continue to just dutifully wait for commitments to be delivered on! Young people need critical support now. We have to act.”

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