The long awaited Comprehensive Spending Review was announced on Wednesday and doubtless much cleverer people than I will write about it at length over the coming days and weeks. The real shock is not the likely impact on local public spending (Local Authorities) but the axe taken to the benefit system. What if families cannot find work yet their benefits are reduced after 12 months out of work; and it seems they could also lose their home when housing benefits are also reduced? The changes in housing benefit will also have a huge impact on young people and abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance will mean far fewer will be able to afford to continue in education.
The CSR announcement is headlines, the details will follow in the coming weeks; for example of special interest to Children North East are the proposals for Sure Start Children's Centres and early intervention with families. Local Authorities will also be waiting for details before they can work out exactly how much money they will be getting from different Government Departments, then they will need to decide how to allocate it to meet local priorities. It will not be until February or even March before they are in a position to allocate money for contracted out services or grants to voluntary organisations.
Our AGM and quarterly Board meeting took place at WEYES last night. Life Members and senior managers are invited to the AGM as well as our Trustees. We launched our Impact Report for 2010 at the AGM. I am pleased with this, it is a change from the usual 'Annual Review' and much more focussed to demonstrate the difference we make for children, young people and families. We took the advice of 'New Philanthropy Capital' a think tank and consultancy to help funders and charites achieve greater impact. In August they published a paper 'Proving Your Worth to Whitehall' which recommended charities submit themselves to the same 9 testing questions posed by the Treasury to Government Departments during the Comprehensive Spending Review, so we did and the answers are in our Impact Report.
The Impact Report is organised into three themes - affirming family relationships; giving children and young people opportunities that raise aspirations; and encouraging community engagement. I think this makes more sense than the traditional 'service areas' after all no one outside Children North East cares how we organise ourselves internally, they want to know what difference we make. The Impact Report is being distributed during the next couple of weeks and will be on our website soon.