Latest NAVCA news and updates

Oct 15 2014

NAVCA publish results of their annual chief officers’ survey

NAVCA has published the findings of their 2014 survey of Chief Officers, an annual survey carried out to determine the views of NAVCA members on current policy issues. Forty per cent of members completed the survey. The survey findings were presented at NAVCA Annual Chief Officers’ conference (CORE), which is taking place in Manchester today and tomorrow (15-16 October).

The key findings are:

  • Despite local authorities dealing with massive cuts the vast majority are still funding local infrastructure.
  • NAVCA members feel local authorities and local health bodies listen to the local voluntary sector, but they get largely ignored by LEPs.
  • Demand for infrastructure support is increasing.
  • Local authority relationships are improving.

The survey shows that although the funding environment for NAVCA members is tough, there is evidence that local statutory bodies recognise the value of their work and continuing to invest in them. An impressive 98% of members said that they were funded by their local authority. Clinical Commissioning Groups fund 57% of NAVCA members.

There is also positive news about members’ relationships with their local councils. NAVCA members’ relationships with local authorities have seen considerable improvement this year. 37% reported that their relationship had got better over the past 12 months, compared to just 16% last year.

Demand for infrastructure is increasing. Almost two thirds of organisations have seen demand for their services increase over the last 12 months, whilst a third has seen no change. Only 3% say that demand has decreased.

Neil Cleeveley, acting Chief Executive of NAVCA, said:

“This survey shows that local councils recognise the contribution NAVCA members make to local communities and they continue to value and fund their work. The best councils and local health bodies understand they need to properly resource local infrastructure in order to work with local charities and community groups. We would like to see more joint investment between local public bodies to achieve better value.”

“This survey also gives a clear and simple message to LEPs. They are not doing enough to engage the voluntary sector. They must work with infrastructure to engage people in local decisions about growth and investment.”

Download the survey results

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Oct 09 2014

Get ready for flu

As the national campaign is launched to get over 65s and children and adults with weakened immune systems to get flu vaccines, NAVCA has published a short briefing showing how our members can help the fight against flu.

The two page briefing provides examples of local health bodies working with NAVCA members to unleash the potential of charities and community groups to improve local health and wellbeing. The briefing is intended to show what is possible and to get areas thinking about how local health bodies and NAVCA members can work together.

Read the briefing

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Sep 26 2014

Social Value Act review announced

The Government has announced a review of the Social Value Act. The review will be led by Lord Young who will be assisted by Chris White MP, Hazel Blears MP, the Federation of Small Businesses and Michael O’Toole. The review will help to determine if the act should be widened to cover contracts for goods and works as well as services and how this can be done in a way that continues to support SMEs and charities and voluntary organisations to bid for public contracts. The review will consider evidence from a range of sources over the coming months and look to report back in early 2015.

Neil Cleeveley, acting Chief Executive of NAVCA, said

“Social value is about changing minds rather than just ticking boxes. It clearly has tremendous potential but it is largely untapped, something the review must address. It has to drive real and lasting change in public commissioning and procurement culture if social value is to realise its full potential.”

“We want the Social Value Act extended to cover all contracts, something they’ve already managed in Birmingham. Public bodies should also be required to publish a short annual social value statement, setting out how they are using the act and what is being achieved. This would make sure it remains a live issue for all public sector commissioners.”

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Sep 23 2014

Consultation on new UK Procurement Regulations published

On Friday, The Cabinet Office finally published the consultation on transposing the new EU Procurement Directives into UK law. Also included are proposals for implementing Lord Young’s recommendations from the review of SME procurement.

The consultation only runs until 17 October. NAVCA will be responding and we welcome contributions or your sign up. NAVCA’s Policy Officer, Rachel Rhodes will be looking at the details over the next few days and issuing a draft response.

The consultation documents and a proposed draft of the new Public Contract Regulations 2015 can be downloaded here. If you need a reminder of some of the issues read Rachel’s article from July on this subject.

Please email with any comments or questions.

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Sep 16 2014

NAVCA responds to Labour Party consultation

NAVCA has responded to the Labour Party policy consultation, Renewing our Bond with the Third Sector. The consultation will inform Labour’s policies for the voluntary castor at the next election.

NAVCA’s response:

  • Includes a call for Labour to recognise the importance of volunteering being properly supported and acknowledge the costs associated with doing this.
  • Asks Labour to support the Government’s proposed creation of a £40 million Local Sustainability Fund.
  • Stresses the threats to charity independence and welcomes Labour’s pledge to scrap the Lobbying Act.
  • Calls for public bodies to be required to publish an annual social value statement.
  • Supports grant funding and asks for guidance to be published that re-iterates the strong message from the EU that public authorities remain free to use grant funding.

NAVCA’s response also says that rather than invent new ways to support the voluntary sector, the best thing an incoming Labour Government could do is to support existing infrastructure. NAVCA’s response also questions the efficiency of demand-led infrastructure.

Read NAVCA’s reponse

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Report says TLI has made lasting change

Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) created significant lasting change according to a new report published today by NAVCA. Analysis of Transforming Local Infrastructure highlights the ways that TLI made a difference. It has a strong focus on ideas and actions that other infrastructure organisations can borrow or learn from. The report highlights the many successes but does not shy away from looking at what learning can be gained from ideas or execution that didn’t work so well.

Key findings from the report show many local infrastructure charities:

  • Are creating innovative solutions to support local charities and community groups.
  • Are at the heart of successful local giving schemes.
  • Are ideally placed to broker support from local businesses and maximising the impact local businesses can have.
  • Are exploring charging and demand led models but that this can only be part of the funding solution.
  • Are crucial to building public service delivery to ensure smaller charities can play a role.

The report proves that the benefits of TLI can be long lasting. Four case studies accompanying the report have also been published to demonstrate the difference TLI made and is still making.

The report also suggests ways that TLI could have been improved. It says that the focus on work within areas meant that there was duplication of effort across the 74 areas and the timescale was too short for many partnerships to maximise the impact of their projects. It is also important that areas that did not benefit from TLI get support.   

Brooks Newmark, Minister for Civil Society, said:

“The Local organisations that provide support services to our frontline charities play a vital role in ensuring a strong voluntary sector in our communities. The £30 million TLI grant fund has shown that by enabling providers to work together, new and innovative ways of meeting the needs of frontline charities in their local community are generated. We now want to see many more charities take inspiration from this, and work together to modernise and enhance their services so that frontline community groups can continue to benefit from their services.”

Neil Cleeveley, acting chief executive of NAVCA, said;

“Councils of Voluntary Service, volunteer centres and other bodies that exist to support local voluntary and community action are a vital part of the charity ‘eco-system’. Times are tough but this report is evidence that nothing can curb their inventiveness in pursuing their mission to support their local community. TLI has helped many of them change to meet future challenges. All the ideas in this report will be fed in to the Independent Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure which is looking into the way ahead for local support charities.”

Download the report and case studies

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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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