Charitable Trusts West Midlands Annual General Meeting and Presentation – Thursday 6th April 2017
Lord Rooker, member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Charities was our guest speaker following the formal business of the AGM.
The House of Lords Select Committee was established in May 2016 to consider issues related to sustaining the charity sector and the challenges of charity governance. The Committee received both written and oral evidence from a range of stakeholders in the third sector and public sector and is looking to understand the pressures faced across the sector by charities. The report was published on March 26th and there will be two months within which the Goverment is expected to respond to the findings and recommendations. The Committee hopes that the recommendations will ease the pressures on charities, in particular small to medium sized organiations.
Lord Rooker spoke about how funding for charities had changed over the last decade with public sector grants being replaced in most instances with contracts, often with complex commissioning processes that disadvantage smaller to medium sized charities. One of the recommendations made is that the Goverment provides support for the development of voluntary sector bidding consortia, and takes steps to promote commissioning based on impact and social value rather than simply on the lowest cost. Lord Rooker also highlighted the challenges of securing core funding leading to pressure on charities viability and sustainability. A recommendation of the Committee is that public sector commissioners should have regard for the sustainability of the organisations which they commission to deliver services and that realistic and justifiable core costs should be included in contracts. He also highlighted the importance of volunteering to the sector and that greater support should be provided to enable charities to make the best use of this valuable resource.
The importance of good governance was particularly highlighted by Lord Rooker in light of the particular high profile charity cases covered by mainstream media last year, which has undermined confidence in the sector by the public. There needs to be greater investment in trustee training and development support and the importance of improving governance practice across all charities.
The matter of Brexit was raised by those who gave evidence to the Committee. With around £200 million a year being received by the third sector through the European Social Fund, it was noted that this would have a significant impact on resources available to parts of the third sector. The Committee has recommended that the Office for Civil Society undertakes an audit of the potential impact of Brexit on charities and brings forward proposals to address any negative impact. A copy of the final Committee report can be found here.
Lord Rooker was previously an MP for Birmingham Perry Barr and knows the region well. He has held various parliamentary positions including Minister for Regeneration and Regional Development,Minister for Housing & Planning, Minister for Asylum & Immigration, Minister of State (Department of Social Security). Lord Rooker is a Vice President of The Birmingham Civic Society. From January 2008, he became a lay governor of Aston University.
To view Lord Rooker’s presentation click here.