New government: Lobbying starts now for the advice sector
We await details of what the change of Government will mean for advice services, but cuts and reviews don't make optimistic reading:
- The emergency budget of 22 June 2010 will place advice services under pressure - see below or click here for more comment.
- £6.2bn of cuts have been announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, including £325m in the Ministry of Justice and £1.165bn at local authority level. See the BBC News site for details.
- Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government Minister, has revealed £450m cuts in revenue grants for local councils in England - click here to find out more.
- The Coaltion Government's Programme contains a commitment to a fundamental review of legal aid and the creation of 'Britain’s first free national financial advice service',
We have issued a brief initial statement on some key features of the Queen's Speech. Click here for further information.
Preparing for the October Spending Review
The real impact of cuts to budgets of government departments won't be known until the presentation of the Spending Review on 20th October - the average twenty five per cent mentioned in the Budget is likely to vary at the department level, and even more so when it gets down to the frontline.
NCVO has already produced an initial Spending Review briefing, on how the process works and how the voluntary sector may be able to add its input, in pdf 84KB at http://preview.tinyurl.com/256qczf
Funding cuts - recording and coping
Chief executives body ACEVO has set up a new Cutswatch website, at http://www.cutswatch.org.uk, "to provide guidance and support to third sector organisations through public spending cuts". It will provide news, case studies and other information on how to cope with cuts, and is open to further suggestions on what to include.
NCVO has also got a Coping With Cuts web section, at http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/advice-support/coping-with-cuts, with links to various resources, news, analysis and also its 'Crowdsourcing the Cuts' feature, which asks for your information on central and local government funding cuts, for this financial year (also see http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/cuts).
Ken Clarke has been announced as Minister for Justice, Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary, Francis Maude as Cabinet Office Minister and Eric Pickles leads Communities and Local Government.
Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon, has been given a junior Ministerial brief in the Justice department that includes legal aid and legal services. For more information click here to visit the Ministry of Justice web site.
We looked at the three main party election manifestos and they said only a little about advice. The Conservatives said they would conduct a fundamental review of legal aid. The Liberal Democrats said they would give young people access to advice on rights and responsibilities. Click here to see our briefing.
Coalition Agreement and Big Society
The Coalition Government's agreement does not mention advice or legal aid. It does talk about rights and responsibilities, devolution of power to local government and community groups with greater financial autonomy and about reducing red tape. The BBC news web site contains the full text of the agreement - click here to see it.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have given details of how the Conservatives' flagship idea of a "big society" will shape the coalition's policies. The Cabinet Office has released a document outlining the Big Society plan. Click here to read the Big Society paper.
What is certain is that the hard work starts now. We need to start lobbying politicians at a local and national level to convince them of the importance of advice in harsh economic times and a climate of public spending cuts. We need to fiercely defend independence and in our view, argue for the development of advice provision to be based on absolute knowledge of what works best for clients, collaboration not competition and prevention, not sticking plasters.
We’ll be writing to and seeking an early meeting with relevant Ministers. We would urge you to contact your local MP – particularly those newly elected - in a personal or organisational capacity to highlight your work and the pressures you face.
In fact, we urge you to contact all local MPs and Councillors to make sure they are aware of local and national issues and support your organisation. Click here for some ideas about how to engage local Councillors and MPs.
AdviceUK’s Smart Advice campaign calls for intelligent thinking about advice. We have added a new, post-election template letter to our Smart Advice web page. If you send a letter to your MP, please send us a copy and a copy of any reply.
The following information and campaigns may also be helpful:
Member of the month
Offering free debt advice for the west Kent area with over a 100 hundred volunteers.View "West Kent Debt Advice Centre" profile
Search the web using EveryClickPowered by EveryClick