A review of the National Lottery Community Fund, a revision of how charities are classified on the Charity Commission’s online register and steps to boost community ownership have all been announced in the government’s long-awaited response to the Kruger review.
In September 2020, Danny Kruger, the Conservative MP for Devizes, published his government-commissioned review on how the government could make the most of the voluntary sector in the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has today published its response to Kruger’s review, which contained 20 wide-ranging recommendations.
The response says the government supports the NLCF’s focus on supporting local organisations and will “renew the policy directions of the fund in 2022 to ensure this work continues”.
It says the government expects to run a public consultation on new government policy directions for the fund this year, “to explore how to bring an even sharper focus on investments in the places and people most in need”.
In response to the call to establish official measures that would track the economic and social contributions of the voluntary and not-for-profit sector, the response says the DCMS will work with the Office for National Statistics to create a civil society "satellite account" that will give better data on the value of the social economy.
Timely and detailed data will be “vital to our efforts to pre-empt opportunities and challenges to sector health and resilience”, the response says.
In a further attempt to close data gaps in the sector, the paper says DCMS will support the Charity Commission in revising how charities are classified on the charity register, with a particular focus on what charities deliver and how they deliver it.
The Kruger report emphasised the importance of local services and volunteering, and called for the establishment of a “community power act”, which would enable community groups to “challenge for a role in the design and delivery of public services.”
The government said it welcomed these aims, and would test so-called "community covenants" under the levelling-up agenda, which would support shared approaches to addressing local challenges.
“A covenant approach would see local authorities and communities work together to take a holistic look at the health of local civic and community life, set out a driving ambition for their area, and share power and resources to achieve this,” the report says. It added that it will begin testing approaches with partners in local government and civil society.
It says the £150m Community Ownership Fund, which was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in the 2021 Spring Budget and opened for applications in July last year, is set to be enhanced.
The government said it was learning lessons from the first bidding round and considering how to maximise the fund’s impact by building capacity in communities to develop sustainable businesses. It will also explore ways to enhance the community asset transfer and asset of community value schemes.
But proposals for the introduction of a volunteer passport system that would match the supply and demand of volunteers and help future-proof against future emergencies and deliver ongoing mutual aid were rejected.
The response says research had found limited demand from the voluntary sector for a national volunteering passport system.
“Many organisations had reservations about the value of a national passport, suggesting this would not be a solution to current barriers to volunteering such as work commitments, caring commitments, and people doing other things in their spare time,” the response says.
Kruger’s suggestion that the more than £500m held in the dormant National Fund charity should go to support the voluntary sector’s recovery from the pandemic has been superseded by the High Court decision last month that the funds should go towards servicing the national debt.
In his foreword to the response, Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Civil Society, wrote that Kruger had “set out his ambition that the government would facilitate an open conversation with volunteers, charities, businesses, local councils and others as we move forward”.
Huddleston said: “We are fully committed to open conversations with these groups to explore what we have learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, and to also understand pre-existing community challenges.”