Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the charity leaders group Acevo, has urged George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to use next week’s summer Budget to give charities a role in tackling extremism and creating full employment, and has called on him to double the size of the £20m Local Sustainability Fund.
A letter from Bubb to Osborne, who will deliver his Budget speech to parliament on Wednesday, says the third sector’s "potential to tackle issues from economic localism to national security still remains untapped".
Bubb’s letter identifies four areas in which he says the government and the sector "can and should be working together": devolution, full employment, tackling extremism and bringing the economy to surplus.
On tackling extremism, he says that the government’s Prevent strategy has often been inadequate in terms of engaging with communities and does little to "engage with and best the forces that are breeding terror".
He says the government should "set aside funding to help multi-faith anti-extremist charities support public bodies in their discharging of their new duties", and work with Acevo and Islamic charities to lift the banking restrictions on charities that work in war zones.
On full employment, Bubb’s letter says the government should improve the Work Programme to better serve the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable individuals. "We believe the time has come to break up the work programme into at least two parts," he says. His letter says the first part should continue broadly as is, whereas the second would focus on long-term claimants of job-seeker’s allowance and be "almost entirely delivered by the voluntary sector".
Bubb says that bringing the economy to surplus can be aided by "a sustainable, developed third sector on a sound footing". He says the Local Sustainability Fund, which was launched last week more than a year after it was initially announced, should be increased from the £20m announced last week to the £40m initially indicated last year.
Bubb says the government must deliver "devolution and city government that is good for citizens as well as for business". He says Acevo members are enthused at the prospect of city deals and devolution in principle, but he is "seeing local charities actually being shut out because of devolution policies, as powers are moved out of local council control and up to larger, more distant unitary authorities".
He says that the government should create a new Social Deal Fund to "capacity-build organisations to work with new unitary authorities and to capacity-build commissioners at the devolved level to better work with the third sector".