Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has made an announcement that he expects local authorities to behave reasonably in the way they manage their relationship with voluntary and community groups.
In his speech at NCVO’s Annual Conference on the 1 March, the Secretary of State set out three tests of reasonableness. First, he stated that "it is reasonable to expect that councils will not pass on disproportionate cuts to local voluntary and community groups. That they will not inflict bigger reductions to your budgets than they take on themselves."
Second, it is reasonable "to expect that [councils] will have been talking to voluntary and community groups at a very early stage about how services need to change."
Third, it is reasonable that councils "will have given three months’ notice or more when they think they 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.
NCVO’s Chief Executive, Sir Stuart Etherington, has stated that 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.