Current policies relevant to our work
There is a complex mix of policies that increasingly direct service delivery and public life in Wales. CDC are convinced that adopting Community Development as an approach to underpin policy making, supported by relevant training and learning programmes, is vital for three reasons:
- For Community Development practitioners to be effective at engaging the communities they work with and, to collaborate effectively and influence partners in the public, community and voluntary sectors, practitioners need to understand the agendas of professionals and colleagues working in Government and across all the sectors.
- For policy makers and service deliverers to understand and promote community involvement, equalities and inclusion and anti-poverty and social justice work, they need to understand how their policies will work in community settings and how delivering through Community Development principles and practice will secure better outcomes and added value.
- For community members to lead the process of change and not remain as 'passive recipients of public services', they need to understand and interact within the wider policy context.
Since its launch in 1999, the majority of policies and strategies produced by the WG, to improve quality of life across Wales highlight the importance of involving communities and enabling them to play a more active part in decisions that affect daily life. Community Development principles and practice are central to this.
Below we have outlines key policies which we feel that CD can make a significant contribution to:
- The Programme for Government
Wales is one of the few administrations in the world with a statutory duty to promote sustainable development as the organising principle of all activities and decisions of the government and public bodies. Policies, strategies, action plans and practices which promote sustainability, social justice, equality and inclusion for the people of Wales are now central to the delivery of government policy. As with all public authorities, the Welsh Government has to meet the legal requirements of the Equalities Act. Part of this is about assessing the impact of public policy and actions to ensure they are not discriminatory and promote equality and good relations, values and principles which are at the heart of good Community Development practice. The First Minister made clear his priorities for the focus of Welsh Government in this Assembly term: growth and jobs; educational attainment; supporting children and families and deprived communities; and improving health and well-being for all everyone in Wales. These are highlighted in the Programme for Government and it is within these broad categories that The Third Sector Scheme Programme for Action is focussed. Within the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty's own portfolio rest the Tackling Poverty Action Plan, the Third Sector Scheme and Equality and Diversity.
The Bill sets ambitious, long-term goals to reflect the Wales, both now and in the future. These are for a prosperous; resilient; healthier; more equal Wales; with cohesive communities; and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. CD practice can support these goals. The Bill strengthens existing governance arrangements for improving the well-being of Wales in accordance with the sustainable development principle. This means seeking to ensure the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- The Child Poverty Act 2010
Along with the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 the Act has put in place a new statutory framework to tackle child poverty through a joined-up approach involving the UK Government, the Welsh Assembly Government, local authorities and other public agencies. The strategy aims to reduce the number of families where both parents are out of work and to reduce inequalities in health, education and economic outcomes. Again, Community Development can make a significant contribution.
The Third Sector Scheme published in January 2014 highlighted four important underpinning priorities which will need to be built into the Third Sector Scheme Programme for Action. These are Sustainable Development, Welsh Language, Equality and Diversity; and Tackling Poverty. Consideration of these cross cutting issues will be built into any finalised Programme for Action. An assessment of these priorities will inform the Programme for Action in relation to Tackling Poverty and Equality and Diversity as they fall within the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty's responsibilities. CD approaches will be crucial for understanding the experiences of those that the Programme for Action wishes to support.
In the 2014-2020 round of European Structural Funding an element for community-based activity will again be included and, for these funds to be fully accessed and used effectively, a skilled workforce will be needed to fully involve the communities living in the designated areas. Something CDC is already working on.
Four Nations Work
An important aspect of CDC's work is about the sharing of knowledge about community development work and community development learning and training across the UK. Although CDC has traditionally worked closely with like- minded organizations across the 5 Jurisdictions, the WwC (Working with Communities) contract with Welsh Government has provided additional opportunities to ensure a strong Welsh voice at UK level, influencing a coherent, best practice approach to issues around workforce development, accreditation, qualifications and professionalism across the UK.
CDC supports the need for a proactive movement for sharing Community Development policy and practice and for promoting and supporting Community Development as a set of values and as a recognized profession across the five jurisdictions in the UK. This international perspective ensures that our local delivery is relevant, informed and current, and takes account of the multi-faceted nature of Community Development.
CDC thinks our representation at various third sector and government groups is essential! To this end, we are a member of the Third Sector Tackling-Poverty Programmes Taskforce, the Equalities and Human Rights Coalition, Third Sector Partnership Council and the Communities & the Tackling Poverty planning group. We have been proactive in raising complex issues around tackling poverty and inequalities to the attention of Minister/s and Welsh Government.
We see the third sector scheme, and other engagement fora, as opportunities to act as critical friend, and to provide a Community Development perspective on policies, programmes and financial decisions in the critical areas of tackling poverty, equalities and human rights underpinned by a commitment to sustainable development and to future generations. However, we also see ourselves as playing a strategic role in delivery working in partnership with Welsh Government and other stakeholders. In particular we are keen to explore how we can work together to:
Strengthen the Tackling Poverty Action Plan in key areas with a specific focus on working to develop a whole system, whole society approach to tackling poverty and disadvantage in
Strengthen the links to between tackling poverty and the equalities and human rights agenda to support the Welsh Government's integration agenda.