Headlines: September 25th, 2006



A new report is calling for the relationship between voluntary and community organisations and local government to be strengthened. ‘How voluntary and community organisations can help transform the local relationship’ has been produced by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and is endorsed by the Local Government Association.

NCVO says the report has been published to inform both the forthcoming White Paper on the future of local government and the Lyons Inquiry. It recognises many of the recommendations in the Local Government Association’s own recent vision, “Closer to People and Places”. It highlights significant opportunities for local government and the voluntary and community sector to work together at both local and national level.

The new report outlines three key areas where it believes the two sides must work together better. It says it is vital that the voluntary sector is involved in Local Strategic Partnerships and Local Area Agreements. The report says all local public bodies and all local partners and local businesses should be brought together to plan strategically for the future and be involved in developing sustainable community strategies. It cites the success of the Sefton Borough Partnership, in Merseyside, which has a rotating chair of the Local Strategic Partnership. It calls, too, for new neighbourhood governance structures to involve and work alongside voluntary and community groups. Voluntary organisations, it says, must be encouraged and enabled to work with local authorities at all stages of the design and commissioning process.

Stuart Etherington, NCVO’s Chief Executive, said voluntary and community organisations shared many values and objectives with local government. “As the Government thinks about the future of local government, it must involve the voluntary and community sector. Voluntary and community organisations play a vital role in providing information, advice, support, voice and services in local areas,” he added. Endorsing the report, Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said, “An important approach to improved services and even stronger communities lies at the creation and fostering of voluntary and community organisations as well as active local resident groups.”