Strengthening social infrastructure to deliver a country that works for all people
Dear Prime Minister,
Following your election success you have painted an ambitious vision for this country for the next five years. As representatives of social sector organisations, there is much in your vision that we agree with, from better education, to investing in the NHS and tackling the climate crisis.
But above all else you have made clear commitments to repay the trust of communities that have, in your own words, ‘lent’ you their votes and to unite the country. These commitments cannot be achieved without the charities, voluntary organisation and social enterprises that operate in this country at a national, regional and local level.
You have talked repeatedly of the importance of improving infrastructure, and we ask that you and your team include strengthening social infrastructure in this commitment. The social sector is the people-powered infrastructure that improves the lives of people in villages, towns and cities every day.
The end of austerity
We want to work with your government to address the impact of austerity and cuts to welfare, social care and local authority budgets which have caused harm to communities and left many charities stretched to the limits of their capacity.
The social sector has been the safety net for those struggling to make ends meet, facing prejudice, battling ill-health or fleeing persecution, but it is not in a position, nor should it be, to absorb continually growing demand. Local authority funding needs to be urgently increased to alleviate the risk of further harm being caused.
Local funding for stronger communities
We welcome your commitment to establish a £150 million community ownership fund. Connections could also be strengthened by removing the blockages that are currently stopping dormant assets from being channelled into a Community Wealth Fund for the benefit of communities that have been under-served by successive governments for decades. There is also an opportunity to bring this agenda together with your plans to devolve power to people and places across the UK.
The election returned a clear mandate for the UK’s exit from the European Union. We recognise this mandate but we remain concerned by the lack of engagement by central government with the social sector on issues which impact the organisations, people and places we represent. We request that you launch a consultation on the design and delivery of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund at the earliest opportunity, in order to ensure areas that have previously received significant investment, do not lose out.
This country is not yet equitable or socially just. Poverty, hate crime and homelessness have all increased in recent years. Life expectancy gains have stalled. We agree that the country should “unite and level up.” Part of the process of healing requires honest and unequivocal acceptance of the harm caused by racist and homophobic language.
We call on you to lead from the front, apologise for any prejudicial words spoken or written that you have used in the past and commit to inclusive and collaborative language and policy from now on. If we are going to move forward as a country, it has to be on the basis that the human rights of every person that lives in the UK are valued and respected.
We want the social sector and the government to work towards our shared goals through honest, respectful and meaningful partnership. As representatives of thousands of social sector organisations we would like to extend an open invitation to meet so we can discuss working together over the next five years to deliver a country we can all be proud of.
Vicky Browning, chief executive, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
Tony Armstrong, chief executive, Locality
Rita Chadha, chief executive, Small Charities Coalition
Jane Ide, chief executive, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
Fadi Itani, chief executive, Muslim Charities Forum
Kunle Olulode, chief executive, Voice4Change England
Paul Reddish, chief executive, Volunteering Matters
Paul Roberts, chief executive, LGBT Consortium
Adeela Warley, chief executive, CharityComms
Wanda Wyporska, chief executive, The Equality Trust
Kathy Evans, chief executive, Children England