No more devolution deals without charity backing, says body

DEVOLUTION deals should not go ahead unless councils can demonstrate that local charities have been involved in their development and will have a role in implementation, a body representing the sector has argued.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) said the lack of published criteria from central government for how devolution deals should be made means it is unclear if consultation with charities, businesses and other groups is "necessary or valued".

Very few charities have reported being involved in devolution discussions, which represents a missed opportunity to radically redesign services to better tailor them to local communities, it added.  

The organisation is calling for clear benchmarks for assessing deals, which should include a minimum standard for engaging with the voluntary sector, as well as other local stakeholders, and plans showing how charities will be involved in implementing devolved powers.  

Karl Wilding, director of public policy at the NCVO, said: "If devolution just centralises power in town halls then we're destined to continue the disillusionment and disengagement of old.

"We're also concerned that the current focus on economic development comes at the expense of public service reforms, meaning some of the potential for reshaping services around community needs and assets is lost."