The Guernsey Community Foundation (the Community Foundation) and the Lloyds Bank Foundation for the Channel Islands (Lloyds) are to publish their joint response to a request from the Policy & Resources Committee to comment on the Revive and Thrive recovery plan.
In a letter to P&R [attached below], the two organisations say that Covid has had both a positive and a negative effect on the third sector. They highlight four key takeaways:
Charities faced a sudden loss of income, but, thanks to a spike in donations, many were not as badly affected as they might have been.
Certain services were suspended, but others were delivered in new and innovative ways. The sector was quick to adjust the scale and scope of its operations as required. These new ways of working will provide easier access for some clients in the future.
Islanders’ desire to help each other out led to a surge in volunteering, which in turn encouraged charities with complementary aims and ambitions to work in partnership.
The collective experience of Covid gave rise to a renewed appreciation of the benefits of community engagement – on which both the States and the third sector need to build.
The letter goes on to caution Policy & Resources against assuming that charities were in good financial health before the pandemic hit, pointing out that charities delivering essential services “have for too long been wholly and precariously reliant on grants [and] receive little or no States support.” Post-Covid, “they face a likely increase in demand for their services.”
The two organisations recommend a recovery strategy that doesn’t use pre-Covid standards as benchmarks but instead sets “truly ambitious objectives which, if met, will mean that Islanders enjoy a higher standard of living.”
Noting that the narrative around the Revive and Thrive strategy highlights the needs of the hospitality and tourism industry, the two foundations recommend that the States focus on outcomes linked to cohorts of people (e.g. the low paid) rather than categories of economic activity:
“Rather than design a system that, for example, offers protections to the hospitality sector, the objective should address poverty pay across all sectors. Ultimately, the impact of covid will hit the already disadvantaged the hardest, and we expect to be asked to support the third sector over an extended period – one that potentially extends beyond the parameters of any phased recovery.”
After pledging to work closely with the States in designing the Revive and Thrive action plans, the two organisations offer some closing suggestions:
“[…] if government and the third sector are to benefit fully from working together, a straightforward commissioning process – learning lessons from the UK and tailored to fit Guernsey’s profile – is essential. There are services provided by the States that can be delivered more effectively, and potentially more cheaply, by the sector, but there are no mechanisms in place whereby charities can pitch to deliver those services, and States-led efforts to outsource are infrequent, inconsistent and opaque. The benefits of a co-designed system apply here too.
In discussing ways to ‘build back stronger’, the States and the third sector should explore different funding arrangements for charities. Social Bridging Finance, for example, would involve the Foundation or Lloyds funding a pilot project and the States agreeing to meet ongoing costs if the pilot delivers on agreed SROI-related outcomes.”
Further details are available from e.g. the Guernsey Community Foundation’s website www.foundation.gg/news – or by contacting the Foundation on 723442 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.