Over the last decade or two, it has been interestingly the fashion for many charities to consider themselves political 'think tanks' who believe they have the ability and indeed the responsibility to lobby governments on behalf of the people they claim to represent, particularly in the field of disability.
Local authority support and in particular financial support for local Councils of Voluntary Service (CVS) is ebbing away in too many places. This is tragic. They serve the same communities. There should be common cause to promote community well-being and much more. Well-being and outcomes in challenging times require strong public - social/sector partnership.
This week has illustrated just how the Government is continuing to heap pressure on the voluntary and community sector. Charities are suffering a triple hit with cuts of over 45 per cent in central government funding, local councils being forced to cut their VCS budgets, and a significant reduction in donations.
My strategic advice to the sector, is to seek to find common cause with local government to make the case to central government to stop or at least mitigate the impact of further cuts; to expose the human and financial implications of the Government's welfare 'reforms'; and to argue for greater localism with more devolved responsibility and resources to localities.
Barnardo's believes that the scandal of child poverty in this country will only be tackled when action is taken to improve both the income and the access to services that the poorest families have. We know that money matters to the poorest families - especially when rising living costs, stagnating wages, a weak labour market and spending cuts are placing more pressure on them than ever before. Many families in poverty in the UK live on just £12 per person per day after housing costs. That £12 has to stretch to cover everything: food, electricity, water, gas, bus fares.
In 2013 and over the next few years, I predict that many places will regret the abolition of their LSPs and other places will be creating new local partnership and collaborative arrangements. What they are called is of little matter but what they can achieve can be very significant and relevant to local communities, businesses and citizens. And surely that is the whole point?
The voluntary and community sector has always championed the rights and needs of the disadvantaged; fought for equality; and stood up for social justice. Now is the time to advocate these aims as never before. Cuts and many other government policies are taking the country in the opposite direction. Charities cannot ignore this.