Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, made an announcement in his speech at the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) annual conference yesterday, that he expects local authorities to behave reasonably in the way they manage their relationship with voluntary and community groups.
In his speech the Secretary of State set out three tests of reasonableness. First that councils should not pass on disproportionate cuts to local and voluntary groups. Secondly that they should talk to voluntary and community groups at a very early stage about how services need to change. And thirdly that they will have at least three months notice about the need to end or alter a grant or other support.
The Secretary of State defined disproportionate cuts in his speech as bigger reductions to budgets than they take on themselves. He also gave a commitment to consider giving statutory force to these expectations should local authorities fail to meet them.
This is a very important statement from the Government. It fires a warning shot across the bow of local government not to make disproportionate cuts to the vital services that the voluntary and community sector provides. The Secretary of State also made it clear that he expects those Local Authorities that have made disproportionate cuts to the sector to reconsider.
Eric Pickles speech form the NCVO annual conference 2011, can be read in full here.
Information supplied by Chief Executive Sir Stuart Etherington, National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)