Latest NAVCA news and updates

Aug 14 2014

NAVCA’s quarterly survey hints at possible up-turn


The findings from NAVCA’s latest quarterly survey of members suggests that whilst the outlook may not be improving for many it has at least stabilised. The survey, the 9th in the series, illustrates that NAVCA members are less pessimistic about their prospects, with a sharp increase in those looking to extend their range of services. For the first time since the survey began more are planning to take on staff rather than reduce numbers. The survey uses a representative sample panel of NAVCA members to track trends in local voluntary action. The latest survey took place in July. Surveys have been run every three months since July 2012.

For the first time more respondents said that staffing levels will rise (17%) rather than fall (4%) over the next three months, although 80% expect staffing numbers will remain the same. Collaboration remains key for NAVCA members. A regular finding of this survey series is that NAVCA members are looking to increase collaboration with other local support organisations. This trend continues with over half (54%) anticipating more collaboration. Other charities are also seen as key to future success by 57% of respondents.

Yet again a majority of NAVCA members (58%) see the NHS as key to success and a similar number (54%) say their relations with local NHS bodies are improving. This quarter shows more respondents saying relationships with local authorities have got worse (21%) rather than improved (17%).

Neil Cleeveley, acting Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;

“It’s too early to tell if this marks a turning point. We need to dig a bit further to understand how things are changing. We know, for example, that there are significant cuts in public spending on the horizon whatever the outcome of the General Election.”

“What the survey tells me is that NAVCA members are expert at making the most out of the resources available. They are working hard to build partnerships to make sure local charities and community groups are well supported and are responding with new services to meet new needs.”

Read the survey report

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Aug 13 2014

NAVCA says Charity Commission plans for changing annual returns will harm smaller charities

NAVCA believes that the Charity Commission’s proposals for the 2015 Annual Return need a major rethink and should not proceed in their current form.  The proposals, which the Charity Commission has been consulting on since June, would require every charity to state how much income it receives from public service delivery, how much it spends on campaigning, whether it has a remuneration policy for paying executive staff and whether it has conducted a review of its financial controls. All charities with income between £10,000 and £500,000 would have to provide more financial information than currently required.

NAVCA says that proposals will impose significant additional burdens on charities, in particular smaller ones, without providing meaningful and useful information. It runs counter to the Government’s desire to reduce red tape and is an overreaction to recent political attacks on charities.

Neil Cleeveley, acting chief executive of NAVCA, said;

“These really are badly thought out proposals that will do nothing to promote public trust in charities. Having already said that it does not have the resources to do its job, the Commission is creating extra work for itself and thousands of charities without offering any tangible benefits for anyone.”

“These proposals appear to be a reaction to recent political attacks in the national media. The regulation of charities should be about maintaining public trust not about pandering to party politics.”

Read NAVCA’s response

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Jul 24 2014

NAVCA publish response to local sustainability fund consultation

NAVCA has published its response to the Local Sustainability Fund consultation. The consultation seeks views on the design and delivery of a proposed new fund, worth up to £40m, aimed at supporting medium sized charities who are struggling to maintain vital local services.

NAVCA’s response highlights the crucial role NAVCA members will play in making this successful. NAVCA members provide an existing network with the skills, experience and knowledge the fund will need. Attempting to create a new network will be costly, time consuming and, based on previous experiences, doomed to failure.

 Read NAVCA’s response

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Jul 21 2014

NAVCA announces change at the top

Neil Cleeveley has been appointed acting chief executive of NAVCA following the announcement that Joe Irvin is leaving NAVCA to take up the post of chief executive at Living Streets, the national charity that campaigns on behalf of pedestrians. Neil Cleeveley was deputy chief executive of NAVCA and will take up his new role on Monday 21 July.

 Caroline Schwaller, Chair of NAVCA, said:

“I would like to thank Joe for his contribution to NAVCA and on behalf of trustees, staff and members wish him all the best for the future. I am delighted that we have someone with Neil’s experience to take up the reins. With the Independent Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure due to publish its findings at the turn of the year, these are exciting and challenging times for us. We will continue to campaign tirelessly on behalf of NAVCA members and the people they serve.”

 Joe Irvin, said of NAVCA:

“It has been a real privilege to serve NAVCA members as their chief executive, and I am grateful to the trustees, staff and members for their support. I believe NAVCA members have an important role to play and look forward to the recommendations of the Commission on the future of local infrastructure later this year. I wish Neil, the trustees, staff and members of NAVCA all best wishes for the future, as I look forward to the exciting new challenge at Living Streets.”

 Neil Cleeveley, Acting Chief Executive of NAVCA, said:

“We are entering really exciting – but challenging – times. Across the country infrastructure has been put under intolerable pressure by cuts but we are now seeing the first signs of a new found confidence from members as funders start to recognise the implications of losing their vital work. My role is to ensure that we have a strong national champion of local infrastructure. NAVCA must foster this new found confidence and help members to translate this into finding ways to deliver first class support for local charities and community groups.”  

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Jul 11 2014

New NAVCA EU procurement rules briefing

NAVCA has published a new briefing that provides an update on the changes to the EU Procurement Directives. The new Directives came into force in April 2014, but EU member states now have up to two years to implement them into national legislation. The UK Government has made it clear that it intends to implement them in the shortest time-frame possible and formal consultation is expected later this month.

NAVCA’s briefing written by Commissioning expert Rachel Rhodes summarises the changes most relevant to the voluntary sector and what to expect.

Download the Update on the changes to the EU Procurement Directives

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Jun 24 2014

Labour plan smaller government contracts

NAVCA has welcomed an announcement from Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions minister, that a future Labour Government would create smaller contracts. The announcement came in an interview with the financial Times on Tuesday 24 June.

In the interview Rachel Reeves says that she would expect smaller charities and businesses to be able to get these contracts. She suggested that central contracts would be replaced by services being bought at a local authority or local enterprise partnership level.

Rachel Reeves also said that the Labour Party was considering requiring government suppliers to guarantee that they would pay the living wage to their employees as a condition of receiving contracts.

Neil Cleeveley, NAVCA Director of Policy and Research, said

“We welcome any proposal that makes it easier for local service providers, they understand the specific issues of their communities and are better able to engage local citizens in the design and delivery of services. As a Living Wage employer, NAVCA welcomes any move towards requiring suppliers of government contracts to pay the living wage to prevent a race to the bottom and to ensure quality and safety remain essential factors of public services.”

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Jun 11 2014

NAVCA defends Oxfams right to campaign

NAVCA is giving public support to Oxfam following the attack from MPs for their campaign against poverty in the UK. A Conservative MP has attempted to silence Oxfam by asking the Charity Commission to investigate whether the campaign breaches the organisation’s charitable status. NAVCA believes that charities’ right to campaign is a fundamental and healthy part of our democracy.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said:

“Oxfam must not succumb to an attempt to bully charities into silence. Charities must not be party political but we must defend charities’ right to campaign, which is a fundamental part of our democracy. We have a duty to speak out to protect the people and communities they exist to serve.”

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Jun 04 2014

NAVCA responds to the Queen’s Speech


The Government has announced its legislative programme for the coming year in the Queen’s speech. The speech contained eleven new proposed bills that will go before parliament in the coming year, in the run up to the General Election. A draft Protection of Charities Bill was announced as part of this programme. The bill is designed to give the Charity Commission tougher powers to prevent the abuse of charities and would equip them to tackle abuse more effectively and efficiently.

Commenting on the Protection of Charities Bill, Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;

“We recognise that the Charity Commission increasingly finds itself under pressure to act whilst having reduced resources. So we are generally supportive of measures that help the Commission do its job. However, we have in the past warned against the Charity Commission turning into some kind of Rambo, acting tough but showing little understanding. This means we will study this bill with interest.”

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said;

“A lot of political commentators are pointing out that it is quite a light legislative programme. If there is parliamentary time, why not use it to amend the Social Value Act to include all contracts.”

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May 07 2014

NAVCA welcomes Sherlock investigation

NAVCA has welcomed the announcement by the Labour Party of a review of the Lobbying Act. The review will be led by Baroness Sherlock, a former charity chief executive. The Labour Party is committed to repealing the act.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said

“Despite the amendments made to the Bill as it passed through Parliament, the act is still a dog’s breakfast. Charities are not allowed to be party political, but the right to campaign and have an independent voice is precious.”

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Apr 30 2014

Zero support for exploitative zero hours from NAVCA

The Office of National Statistics has published new figures suggesting that the number of people on zero-hour contracts is higher than previously thought - and could be close to 1.4m. NAVCA has re-iterated their opposition to the use of exploitative zero hour contracts and has set out a number of tests as to whether such contracts are exploitative. NAVCA’s Trustee Board confirmed this position at their Trustee Board meeting last week. A decision it is hoped will discourage charities from using these contracts and highlights the harm that they do. 

The issue is important in the voluntary sector as the use of zero hour contracts has grown. Last August’s Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggested that zero hour contracts were more commonly used in the voluntary sector than in the public or private sectors.

NAVCA realises that the flexibility of zero hour contract may suit some employers and employees in certain circumstances. However, many are one-sided agreements. NAVCA’s Trustee Board agreed to oppose contracts that might be considered exploitative and, in particular:

  • Do not provide employees with a degree of certainty.
  • Do not allow employees the opportunity for meaningful negotiation.
  • Are used to replace permanent contracts.
  • Require exclusivity so that employees must seek permission before working elsewhere.
  • Penalise employees if they are not available for work.
  • Give employees fewer rights than staff on permanent contracts.
  • Result in lower hourly pay than permanently contracted staff
  • Fail to compensate for last-minute cancellation of work.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said:

“Our board has taken a very strong stance on this issue and by doing so is sending out a clear message to other charities. Charities and social justice go hand in hand. We should all expect charities to treat people, including employees, in a fair and just way. Exploitative zero hours clearly do not.”

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Apr 28 2014

NAVCA joins the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign

NAVCA’s trustee board have confirmed their opposition to compulsion in volunteering and signed up to the ‘Keep Volunteering Voluntary' campaign. They are committed to the principle that people who volunteer give their time freely and without coercion.

Volunteering brings real benefits to individuals and communities; it gives people a sense of belonging and wellbeing and brings them together to contribute to their community. Indeed, volunteers are the lifeblood of many voluntary and community organisations. It also helps people to build their skills and confidence and offers some a route into employment.

However, NAVCA’s trustees are opposed to any element of compulsion and believe that ‘Community Work Placements’ will undermine the value of volunteering.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said:

“People volunteer for a whole host of reasons and NAVCA members are there to support them in whatever activity they choose. But it ceases to be volunteering when people have no choice. Our sector has a proud record of supporting unemployed people into work through volunteering and this latest DWP scheme undermines that. That is why NAVCA is opposed to any form of compulsory unpaid ‘voluntary’ work in return for benefits. And it is why we have offered our support to the ‘Keep Volunteering Voluntary’ campaign.”

You can sign up to support the ‘Keep Volunteering Voluntary’ campaign on the campaign website

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Apr 17 2014

NAVCA publishes Health case studies report

NAVCA has published a new report containing case studies to accompany the three research briefings published last month that explore local charities and voluntary organisations attitudes and experiences of local health organisations. The case studies illustrate NAVCA members work to influence Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNA) and the nature of their relationship with local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local Healthwatch.

The report is the product of work between NAVCA and 12 of its members between October 2013 and March 2014. The case studies provide additional intelligence, regarding infrastructure organisations’ involvement in the emerging local health structures. The case studies aim to show examples of what is working well, what challenges there are, and how sector involvement differs around the country.

Read the case study report (takes you to a page with the case study report and the three research briefings).

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