Danny Kruger MP joined Bates Wells partner Luke Fletcher to discuss his recent report, Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant, as well as discussing the charity and political landscape.

The recently-launched report sets out a vision for a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.

Kruger said: ‘The impetus for the report was the spring lockdown and the community spirit and social response to that.’ Kruger went on to explain the ‘critical need to deliver social change’ and that ‘everyone needs to play their part’ and said the report shows the need to ‘enable places to develop their own identity and build on this in order to prosper.’ Talking about the role of volunteering in civil society, Kruger said ‘we need to create a system so people can register voluntary activities, and we need to incentivise volunteering.’

Kruger went on to say that ‘in government, we’re only good at talking to big charities, we need a system where the smaller ones get a piece of the action.’ On being asked about the Government’s response to the report, Kruger said ‘there’s a huge appetite for improvement and better design in order to deliver social value.’ Kruger acknowledged that although some of his recommendations will ‘go nowhere at all’ he hoped many would be adopted.

The audience was keen to find out from Mr Kruger how the charity sector can fully play its part in a “very political arena” and how help offered to charities could be made “less bureaucratic.”

Third Sector rounded up some of the highlights in this article, including Kruger’s point that ‘larger charities had a big role to play in supporting local infrastructure in a way that did not push the smaller organisations out, and lead to the “Uberisation” of the sector. “There are plenty of good examples of big and small charities working together, and I’d like to see more of that working in partnership”’.

Kruger’s proposals include:

  • A ‘Community Power Act’ to give local people power over the design and delivery of public services
  • ‘Pop-up parishes’ with time-limited powers and freedoms to innovate
  • A Volunteer Passport system to match the supply and demand for voluntary help
  • A new National Volunteer Reserve to help with future emergencies and ongoing environmental challenges
  • Paid ‘service opportunities’ for unemployed young people to work on social and environmental projects, funded through the Kickstart programme
  • An annual Neighbour Day bank holiday to celebrate communities and volunteering
  • A deal with faith communities to work with the public sector on big social challenges
  • A deal with Big Tech to design new ‘digital infrastructure’ for communities
  • A new £500 million Community Recovery Fund to help civil society during the current crisis, financed through the defunct National Fund
  • A new £2 billion endowment, the Levelling Up Communities Fund, for investment in long-term, community-led transformation in left-behind areas, financed through dormant insurance accounts.

Kruger says: “The social covenant is the mutual commitment by citizens, civil society, businesses and the state, each to fulfil their discrete responsibilities and to work together for the common good of all. We need a new social and economic model to achieve this.”

To view the report, visit: https://www.dannykruger.org.uk/communities-report