July 2010    Issue 41

Welcome to the July edition of ROTA's newsletter!

The results of the general election are old news, but we’ve been digesting rafts of information coming from government since. We’ve been thinking about how the emergency budget is likely to impact on BAME communities, and what opportunities and challenges the agenda to build a ‘Big Society’, based around social responsibility and community action might present for the BAME sector. This e-bulletin shares some of our initial thoughts with you

We’ve also been planning our 2010 consultation with the BAME sector, to find out what issues specifically under health, education and criminal justice you want us to work on. We are sensitive to consultation fatigue and will be trying an innovative approach to find out your concerns. If you are holding any community events, workshops and so on which you think could inform our consultation, please invite us or ask us for help.

This is the last issue of our e-bulletin until September. The next one will include the same quality content, but in a new, more accessible format. Our September e-bulletin will also launch the next edition of our quarterly magazine – Agenda – on mental health.

In this issue:
National Policy News
01 Children, young people and education
02 Criminal Justice
03 Female Voice in Violence
04 Health Inequalities
05 Other national news
London Policy News
01 London news

Carlene Firmin, Senior Policy Officer, was profiled in the Guardian on 2 June. It highlights her work on the Female Voice and Violence project, on the impact of gang violence on women and girls. Carlene has also launched the Gag Project, a youth-led social enterprise to support young women who have been affected by gang violence to inform policy development.

Our Board of Trustees has appointed a new Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer. Read the press release here.

Urgent vacancies

We want to recruit a Finance Manager. Closing date is 16 July. Find out more about the post and get full application details here.

We're also looking for two Communications interns for eight-12 weeks to assist our Communications lead on two specific projects. Closing date is 14 July. Find out more here.

Until September, we wish you a wonderful summer.


National Policy News

1. Children, young people and education


Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove has invited Professor Eileen Munro to conduct an independent review of children’s social work and frontline child protection practice.

The review will look at how to remove the barriers and bureaucracy which restrict the time social workers spend with vulnerable children. Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has also written to all chairs of local safeguarding children boards and directors of children’s services to confirm that the overview report and the executive summary of all new serious case reviews must now be published.

Find out more about the review here.

Following the announcement of the independent review and the disbanding of the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, Sir Roger Singleton has resigned from his position as the government's chief adviser on child safety. The government has confirmed that there are no plans to appoint a new chief adviser.

The government will also confirm its intention to scrap the ContactPoint database as soon as possible. The Department for Education has issued a letter to directors of children’s services providing guidance on interim operations, the new direction the government is considering and the likely timing of further developments.

ROTA has anecdotal evidence that BAME families have differential experiences, with higher rates of intervention, often for reasons that their white counterparts may not experience interventions for. Families from certain BAME communities are often fearful of social workers, avoiding their support. The national developments are likely to signal significant changes in practice, which will impact on this experience.


Update on the Academy Bill

The Academy Bill will allow more state schools to become academies, freeing them from local authority control.

Schools will be able to become academies without consulting their local education authorities. Any school rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted is pre-approved for academy status.

The Bill is expected to have a swift passage through Parliament, with government aiming to have the first new academies ready for September 2010.

Government says that new academies will follow an 'inclusive' admissions policy, although the Bill will allow those schools which currently use selection – such as grammar schools – to continue to do so.

State schools are currently subject to considerable amounts of legislation, while academies have more freedom in terms of syllabus, punishment and pupil welfare. While ROTA recognises that lots of guidance can make it difficult for schools to get on with their jobs, there is a need for some rules to make sure good quality schooling is available to all children and young people. We have concerns about whether new academies will be run fairly, ensuring race equality, and about the risks of an ethnically and socio-economically segregated school system emerging. We will be closely monitoring the impact of this Bill.

Education and Children’s Bill

The Education and Children’s Bill seeks to give schools greater control over what is taught in their classrooms.

It will introduce ‘the pupil premium’, aimed at ensuring disadvantaged pupils attract a greater share of funding. As some BAME groups are overrepresented among disadvantaged socio-economic groups, we welcome the inclusion of this measure. However, there is as yet lack of clarity about sums involved and whether or not they will be sufficient to enable disadvantaged BAME pupils to overcome the educational challenges they face.

The Bill will also give more powers to head teachers to discipline pupils. Improving discipline was a Conservative manifesto commitment and the party had previously pledged to introduce a number of assurances including removing the requirement to give 24 hours’ notice for detentions, removing appeals processes for those who have been excluded, and allowing head teachers to ban and confiscate any items they think may cause violence or disruption.

ROTA has concerns about such proposals because of well-documented, unfair treatment of certain groups of BAME pupils within behaviour management strategies in education.

Other provisions included in the Bill would introduce a reading test for children in year 6 and reform accountability frameworks to hold head teachers accountable for their school's performance.

Free school meals

The Government has decided not to proceed with the previous administration's decision to extend free school meals to some nursery and primary pupils from September.

All pupils who are currently eligible will continue to receive them, but previous plans to expanding eligibility further have been scrapped.

ROTA is disappointed with this decision, which will leave an additional 50,000 children in poverty, among which BAME children will be disproportionately represented.

Runnymede’s latest Bulletin on education

The Runnymede Bulletin on education is available now free of charge here.



2. Criminal Justice

New statistics on race and the criminal justice system

The latest ‘Race and the criminal justice system’ report was published by the Ministry of Justice in June.

It provides statistical information on the representation of BAME people as suspects, offenders, victims, as well as employees, within the criminal justice system. While there have been some improvements from the previous annual report, in relation to clear-up rates of racially or religiously aggravated offences, some substantial differences continue to exist in the experiences of people from different ethnic groups.

Get the report here.

ACPO guidance on police responses to people with mental ill health

The Association of Chief Policy Officers (ACPO) has recently published guidance for policy on responding to people with mental ill health or learning disabilities. Read more here>>

People from certain BAME groups are disadvantaged within both the criminal justice and mental health systems. They are more likely to take coercive pathways to the acute end of the mental health system, through the criminal justice system, without actually benefiting from the care that is available there.

In response to our concerns about this inequality, we were pleased to support the authors of this guide to produce a section aimed at raising awareness within the police about BAME people with mental health issues. We also held a stand at the launch event of the guide to highlight the issue.

Find out more here.


3. Female Voice in Violence

Update on the FVV Project

The national research part of our Female Voice in Violence (FVV) project continues development in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

Working with local voluntary and community groups and statutory bodies in these areas, we are engaging young women to act as researchers, collecting evidence locally. If you are working in these areas with females and males who are gang-affected, and you have examples of promising practice to share or to make referrals to the project, please contact us.

In June the Greater London Authority (GLA) and ROTA held a joint event at City Hall exploring the FVV recommendations in relation to safeguarding and intelligence gathering. Some significant ideas around promising practice were captured at that event and will be communicated with our partners and decision-making bodies over the next few months.

The FVV Coalition, which was recently established to review progress at local, regional and national levels for women and girls affected by gang violence, is preparing a response to the GLA’s current consultation on its Gender Equality Scheme, which closes on 11 August. More information on the scheme is available here.

Find out more about the FVV Project and Coalition here.


WRC briefing on government’s plans over VAWG sector

The Government Equalities Office is currently consulting on its Strategic Action Plan which looks at the role of the government in supporting the sustainability of the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector.

The work follows on from the cross-government report ‘Together we can end violence against women and girls’ and is an opportunity to provide input on policy regarding future funding for the women’s voluntary sector.

The Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) has prepared a briefing to summarise the document’s proposals and to highlight aspects which may be most relevant to women’s organisations. Read the briefing here.

Read the Strategic Action Plan here.

Alternatively, if you would like to feed into WRC’s response, please contact rebecca@wrc.org.uk by 7 July 2010.


4. Health Inequalities

LankellyChase Foundation’s Free and Quiet Minds programme

The Free and Quiet Minds programme provides funding for organisations that help people who have been detained in psychiatric hospitals, people from black and minority ethnic communities with mental health problems and destitute asylum seekers. Through the element that focuses on BAME people, the Foundation target funding at BAME organisations that have experience of mental health service provision. Find out more here.

Health and access to health care of migrants in the UK

The growing size and diversity of the proportion of the UK population who were born overseas have important implications for meeting health needs and for planning and delivering health services.

The Race Equality Foundation has produced a new briefing that brings together available evidence and outlines some important issues for the health of migrants in the UK today. It also suggests ways in which research, policy and practice might address barriers to health, wellbeing and health care in meeting the needs of migrants. Read the briefing here.


ACEVO’s Health and Social Care Conference

ACEVO will hold its Health and Social Care conference on 14 July. Andrew Lansley CBE MP, Secretary of State for Health will deliver the keynote speech. Find out more and book a place here.

New Better Health website

The Race Equality Foundation has launched the Better Health website which has been designed to help frontline practitioners implement evidence based practice in their workplace, as well as the promotion of race equality in their everyday work. The site also hosts the newest editions of the ‘Better Health’ briefing series

Oral cancer screening in the Bangladeshi community: a social model

Incidence of oral cancer in the UK has risen by 22 per cent in the last decade, with certain BAME groups having an elevated risk of developing the condition due to certain risk factor behaviours. This paper describes an oral cancer screening activity appropriate to the needs of a Bangladeshi community at high risk of oral cancer. The research was carried out between 2006 and 2008 in Tower Hamlets, East London.

Direct payments and BAME services users and carers

More and more people are choosing the direct payments scheme for personal assistance over those services supplied by local authorities.

‘Will community-based support services make direct payments a viable option for black and minority ethnic service users and carers?’, a recent discussion paper, explains the legislation on direct payments, summarises the growing research that indicates BAME service users and carers are not fully able to access direct payments and explores ways in which the direct payments scheme can be effective for BAME service users and carers.

Read the paper here.

Better together: a guide for people in the health services on how you can help to build more cohesive communities

This guide by the Institute of Community Cohesion and the Department of Health is intended to aid health workers and NHS trusts to contribute to community cohesion in the communities in which they operate and to examine how community cohesion can impact on health, wellbeing and health inequalities.


5. Other national news

Emergency budget

On 22 June, Chancellor George Osborne launched the emergency budget, setting out plans to reduce the deficit. It includes some positives such as:

  • A rise in income tax allowance by £1,000 to £7,475 from April 2011 (which will take 880,000 people out of tax altogether)

  • A pledge that child poverty will not increase

  • Child tax credits will be increased by £150 (from April 2011)

However, it also includes many features which are likely to disadvantage certain groups of BAME people, who are over-represented in disadvantaged and low income groups, and who are more likely to experience redundancies linked to the recession.

The budget aims to reduce the deficit through a mix of 77 per cent in public spending cuts and 23 per cent in tax rises. We have concerns about this approach, where the main burden of deficit reduction is borne by reduced spending rather than taxation. It is likely to increase the economic and wider inequality faced by many from BAME groups.

Budget cuts of 25 per cent over four years will occur in each central government department (other than the Departments of Health and International Development). We will probably not know exactly where the cuts will fall within departments until the Comprehensive Spending Review in October. These cuts may impact more on certain BAME groups who are more likely to be employed in the public than the private sector, and be more reliant on public services than white British people.

VAT will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent from January 2011. This tax increase is likely to take proportionately more money from the less well off because of typical patterns of spending.

Public sector pay is frozen for two years for those earning over £21,000 a year. Those earning less than £21,000 will receive a fixed rise of £250 for the next two years.

The following features of the proposed 11bn benefit cuts are of particular concern:

  • Claimants earning up to £40,000 will be able to receive child tax credits from April 2011 (previous threshold £50,000)

  • The Health in Pregnancy Grant will be abolished (from April 2011)

  • Sure Start maternity grants will go to the first child only (from April 2011)

  • The Saving Gateway programme has been axed. It provides those on lower incomes with 50p from the government for every £1 they save.

  • The introduction of a medical assessment for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from 2013, with the aim of reducing the number of claimants. We have concerns linked to the health and mental health inequalities faced by BAME communities and hope that assessment procedures are designed in a way that considers these, so that BAME people are not forced back to work inappropriately.

  • Those who are unemployed for longer than a year will have their housing benefit reduced by 10 per cent (from April 2013). This plan will affect 700,000 people.

  • Social tenants deemed to be in homes bigger than they need will see reductions the money they receive. Housing benefit will be linked to family size for social sector tenants (from April 2013).

  • Caps on local housing allowance (from April 2011), of between £280 for one bedroom accommodation and £400 a week, depending on house size. This measure will disproportionately impact on certain BAME communities who typically have larger families.

  • Local Housing Allowance will also increase in line with the consumer price index, rather than the higher retail price index, and benefit will be reduced if there are non-dependent people living with the claimant (from April 2011).

Some are concerned the changes will lead to a ghettoisation of benefit claimants, particularly in London.

The Chancellor also announced that the rise of the state pension age to 66 will happen faster than previously planned. Again, due to health inequalities, this measure will impact more on people from certain BAME groups. The announcement that the basic state pension will be re-linked to earnings from 2011 will be welcome news to those who rely on the state pension. This is likely to benefit BAME people who are more likely than white British people to rely on state pensions.

As part of the spending review in the Autumn, we urge the government to think carefully about the different effects on BAME communities. With MiNet, London’s BAME sector’s regional network, which is based at ROTA, we will be monitoring cuts in London boroughs for their impact on our communities and their organisations.

Big Society

Big Society is the government’s new agenda to support increased social responsibility, volunteering and philanthropy and to make it easier for people to come together to improve their communities.

This will include the introduction of a National Citizens Service, with an initial programme for 16 year olds. Funds from dormant bank accounts will be used to establish a ‘Big Society Bank’, to provide new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies.

Government has now produced a timeline detailing when the proposals will be implemented which is available here (see section six).

Big Society presents both opportunities and challenges for the BAME sector. A concern is that it is being developed in the context of severe public spending cuts and may therefore be seen to be part of a cost-cutting exercise.

ROTA will be monitoring and seeking to influence this development over the coming months, as well as inform you of these opportunities and challenges, but in the meantime a number of useful resources have been produced on this emerging agenda:

  • LVSC have produced a briefing, which is available here.

  • The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) has launched the Big Society Placement scheme to offer MPs, Peers and civil servants placements with NCVYS member organisations. Junior children's minister Tim Loughton and civil society minister Nick Hurd have signed up to the scheme.

  • NCVYS has also published a briefing paper, which is available here.

  • New Philanthropy Capital has published a report on the ‘Big Society’, which is available here. It considers the important role voluntary and community groups play in building a ‘Big Society’, but how they are often held back by an inability to fully demonstrate their impact.

  • Demos has also published a report on the ‘Big Society’ concept. The report, which is available here, looks at what the ‘Big Society’ means for struggling communities in need of regeneration.


Consultation on Lottery funding shares

Government has launched a consultation on proposed reductions in the share of National Lottery funding directed to the Big Lottery Fund.

It is being proposed that the proportion of overall lottery cash paid to the Big Lottery Fund would fall to 40 per cent. It is also proposed that 100 rather than the current 80 per cent of the Big Lottery Fund will go towards VCS organisations. The deadline for responses is 21 August 2010.

Read more about the consultation here.

LVSC will be responding to this consultation, arguing that if this move takes place, a percentage of arts, sports and heritage lottery funds should be ring-fenced for VCS organisations.

The Big Lottery Fund is an important source of funds for BAME organisations and we recommend that you respond. Alternatively, if you would like to contribute to LVSC’s response to the consultation, please email policy@lvsc.org.uk.


Social exclusion

The government has appointed Labour backbench MP and poverty campaigner Frank Field as a ‘poverty tsar’. He will chair the Review on Poverty and Life Chances, which will report to the Prime Minister at the end of the year.

The main aims of the Review are to:

  • examine the case for reforms to poverty measures

  • generate debate about the nature and extent of poverty in the UK

  • explore how a child’s home environment affects their chances of being ready for school

  • recommend potential action by government and other institutions to reduce poverty and enhance life chances for the least advantaged



London Policy News

1. London News

The Mayor unveils his vision for a better focused GLA

Last month, The Mayor of London set out his plans for a better focused GLA group with greater powers and accountability.

Addressing the first London Congress of borough leaders since the general election, the Mayor presented his proposals for a greater say over the issues that affect Londoners, including devolving more powers to the boroughs. This follows the abolition of the Government Office for London, central government’s arm in London.

Read the proposals here.

The most significant proposal for London’s voluntary and community sectors is that the London Development Agency (LDA) which provides the sector with funding and support for employment, skills and regeneration projects, is to be abolished with some of its functions ‘folded’ into the GLA.

It is also proposed that the functions of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) should be divided between the Mayor and the London Assembly, with the Assembly taking on the scrutiny functions and the Mayor taking on executive functions, creating a policing board for London.

The Mayor also set out his plans for greater powers for the London Assembly, proposing an enhanced role for the Assembly in strategy development.

Other proposals presented by the Mayor include granting the London Skills and Employment Board (LSEB) the power to approve the allocation of the adult skills budget in London, and that GLA should have a greater say in health provision in the capital. Building on the Government's pledge for greater devolution, the Mayor would like to see an enhanced role for the boroughs in terms of skills and housing, among other areas, in line with the principles of 'double devolution'.

In the light of these developments, and enhanced localism supported by the Localism Bill which government hopes will be enacted in the autumn, ROTA is refocusing on policy makers where we can have potential impact.


Economic Development Strategy

The Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy was launched on 24 May.

It sets out the Mayor’s vision for the London economy, and how it can be realised.

The Mayor’s ambitions are:

  • for London to be the world capital of business, and to have the most competitive business environment in the world

  • to be one of the world’s leading low carbon capitals

  • for all Londoners to share in London’s economic success and

  • for London to maximise the benefits of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games

In the autumn an Implementation Plan will be published which will set out how the Mayor will work with partners to deliver his vision for London and to champion the capital. MiNet, which responded to the consultation on the Economic Development Strategy, will be seeking to inform this Implementation Plan.

Read the Strategy here.

London Development Agency Investment Strategy

The London Development Agency (LDA) has published its Investment Strategy, which sets out the new strategic direction for LDA/GLA investment in London’s economic development over the next three years.

This Strategy is driven by the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy. It focuses on six interconnecting areas: international promotion; business support; climate change; sustained employment; regeneration; and Olympic legacy.

Although there is a shift towards commissioning there is new approach of fewer, larger projects with parallel commissioning which if worked correctly may work in favour of BAME organisations. Download the strategy here.

London Plan – Examination in Public starts

A public consultation on the Mayor’s London Plan started on 28 June.

The London Plan is the Regional Development Strategy for London. It outlines the strategic objectives of the Greater London Authority (GLA) in terms of developing London, and how these will be implemented by local boroughs. All the London boroughs will then use this to form their own local development frameworks to inform planning decisions.

The London Plan consultation was held in late 2009. Read the draft replacement Plan here.

The Examination in Public is a public consultation that looks in detail at each policy in the London Plan. The Panel Chair, Peter Robottom, and Panel Inspector, David Lavender chair daily hearings of 25 attendees invited to make their case for changes to the Plan. The Examination in Public will run until 22 October. Get further details here.

ROTA submitted a response to the plan and has been invited to sit on several hearings. We are also working as part of the Just Space Network to increase the voice of civic society in the development of the plan. We will seek to ensure that where the plan attempts to achieve equality, it recognises that to achieve this there is a need to address the historical disadvantage faced by some communities, and to alter the plan to address these needs. If you are interested in being involved please contact Ewan Kennedy, Senior Policy Officer, 020 7902 1177.

Race Equality Scheme

The Mayor’s Race Equality Scheme is now out for consultation.

The Race Equality Scheme sets out what the GLA has done, and plans to do, to make sure the opportunities that London has to offer are available to everyone regardless of race. A consultation meeting will be held at City Hall on 22 July to give Londoners an opportunity to have their say on the plans.

Find out more about the Scheme, the consultation and the meetings here.

If you are unable to attend this meeting or submit a written response, we would welcome any contributions, not matter how long or short, to our submission. Please contact Barbara if you’re interested.

London's Cultural Strategy

The Mayor has also set out his vision to build on and enrich London's cultural life and solidify its standing in the world as a key cultural centre. To help achieve this, the Mayor’s office are seeking views on the draft strategy. More information is available here. The deadline for responses is 6 September 2010.

Labour Mayoral election candidates

Last month, the Labour Party announced the two principal contenders for Labour's mayoral candidate in 2012.

They will be Ken Livingstone and Oona King. An electoral college made up of 50 per cent of London party members and 50 per cent members of affiliated organisations will choose the candidate, who will be announced on 22 September at the Labour Party conference. A series of hustings events will take place across the capital will take place over the summer.

LVSC Big Squeeze report

LVSC have released the second report from their Big Squeeze campaign which provides an update on the impact of the recession on London’s voluntary and community sector and the communities they serve.

The report recommends the need to engage the London Skills and Employment Board to address increasing unemployment rates of deaf, disabled and BAME Londoners, and ensure delivery partners have sufficient resources to tackle increasing worklessness levels.

London Funders’ Recession Report

London Funders recently produced a short report providing a funder’s perspective on the pressures on the sector.

The report raises some concerns about the shrinking of services and how this will lead to a loss of preventative work by the voluntary and community sector, especially smaller organisations. Read the report here.

'What Next? The Future of Voluntary and Community Action'

'What Next? The Future of Voluntary and Community Action' is an independently facilitated open space event.

It is intended for infrastructure workers, frontline workers, funders, policy makers, trustees and anyone else who’s interested. It will take place 10.30-16.30, 9 July at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square.

The event has been arranged in partnership with the Second Tier Advisors Network (STAN), the National Coalition for Independent Action, Third Sector Alliance and the London Regional ChangeUp Consortium. As part of their policy work Third Sector Alliance and the London Regional ChangeUp Consortium will be taking forward any actions identified at the event concerning the future of VCS infrastructure support in London.

The event is free and will provide a chance to meet colleagues and share your hopes, fears, frustrations and ideas about the future of voluntary and community action in London. More information and a booking form are available here.




About the newsletter
Our policy newsletter provides a monthly update on developments under our three policy priorities – health, education and criminal justice – as well as from our policy projects which fall under these areas. It also provides a more general update on policy developments in London which are likely to impact on BAME communities, and from MiNet.

About MiNet
MiNet is London's BAME third sector network which provides a voice for London's BAME population in the development of regional policy. Since 2002, MiNet has been hosted by ROTA on behalf of London's BAME third sector.