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Coming up in 2018

Mike Wild, Chief Executive of Macc, looks ahead at issues and opportunities for the voluntary sector and all who are working to tackle poverty. This is an abridged version of his update in Macc’s newsletter that some may have seen.

The Office for Civil Society will start consultation on a Civil Society Strategy and will provide an opportunity for a new conversation about the role of our sector in shaping places that people live in, not just an abstract national strategy

Welfare Reform: the rollout of Universal Credit is going to continue to put pressure on local support organisations. We need to keep campaigning and sharing stories of the impact this is having on people’s lives. Partly to challenge media stories of ‘benefit scroungers’ which have created a whole set of urban myths and prejudices but also to identify possible legal challenges to this system. (there’s more comment and information on UC on the following page)

The Greater Manchester Devolution experiment could be at risk of becoming less daring as time passes but only bold solutions will work on housing, planning, inclusive growth and so on. Andy Burnham’s big theme this year is transport so expect attention on buses, cycling and a possible rethink of Manchester’s ‘Oyster Card’. We need the conversation to be inclusive to avoid social isolation, barriers to employment and the exclusion of people with physical and learning disabilities.

Homelessness will continue to be a highly visible issue, politically and practically. There’s attention on emergency support and getting people off the streets but there are harder conversations ahead about ongoing support for people with complex needs, collaboration between agencies and some honest discussions about economic priorities.

I am hoping to see plenty of discussion about how the GM Mayor’s Accord with the VCSE sector will be implemented, as we build collaboration and understanding of why it’s important and how it can practically be done.

There’s no sign of the Government doing anything to tackle the financial pressures faced by Local Authorities and with the national political agenda hypnotised by the fast approaching headlights of Brexit, that’s unlikely to shift any time soon. Remember also there are Local Elections in May so it’s a good time to be talking to candidates about local issues.

Social Prescribing is getting a lot of attention at GM level but still no overall agreement on what a good model looks like and still a lack of recognition that it’s not just about GP’s prescribing voluntary sector stuff, it’s the whole design and system of our sector working with public services.

Nationally and locally social care is under pressure. I think there is room to develop local social enterprises and co-operatives to provide home care but it’s hard to see where the investment in that could come from as costs are rising and the only sizeable customer (the Council) has less and less money to spend. And of course pressures on the NHS continue. I recently heard someone say that in NHS terms ‘winter’ now lasts for 12 months. We’ll be starting a conversation about how the VCSE sector and hospitals can work together.

So, I’m going to leave you with a quotation which sits on my office wall.

Mike Wild, coming up in 2018 article for GM Poverty Action

Mike Wild

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, men other-centred can build up.”                   Dr. Martin Luther King

Mike Wild, Chief Executive, Macc