Anger grows as ‘sector leaders’ ingratiate themselves with the government – sign the letter ‘not in our name’

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Sign the letter below and add your name to the growing discontent.

In a letter to Sajid Javid, economic secretary to the treasury, fourteen “leaders from the voluntary sector” have told the government that the sector “stands ready” to implement government plans to privatise public services, cut benefits and entitlements and encourage volunteering as a substitute for statutory services.

Anger is growing, both at the sentiments expressed by this letter and the outrageous assumption that they have the authority to speak for us all.

Today an open letter was sent to all 14 and to the media signed by 28 academics, activists and service providing voluntary agencies.

You can view the appalling letter that began this controversy

Below is the full text of our response. You can add your signature to our open letter below and you will be sent a confirmation email.

Not in our name!

We, the undersigned – along with many people active in voluntary, community and campaigning groups – disagree profoundly with much of the content of this letter. These national bodies do not speak for, or lead us.

We take issue on two matters of principle. Firstly, the letter commits to a party political agenda: the Open Public Services agenda. This policy is code for privatisation and termination of public services. We question whether the sector can be supportive, since charities are forbidden at law from engaging in party politics. We also question whether we should connive in delivery of policies about which there is growing evidence of damage to our common wealth and to vulnerable people. Our starting point should always be the expressed needs of our beneficiaries and those with whom we stand in common cause.

The letter uses the term “public service reform” without any recognition of the diversity of views that exist about the types of reforms needed. We find the letter’s references to government welfare reforms particularly disingenuous, because these are not reforms. They are cuts, the effects of which we observe daily, and are being monitored nationally. The clear inference is that the sector is, through these leaders, offering through increased levels of volunteering to compensate for shrinking public services. This is an untested and dangerous assertion that is being increasingly challenged in the academic and professional worlds, and from within local communities.

Secondly, the letter shows no understanding of the diversity and independence of voluntary action: between national and local organisations, and between service delivery and campaigning bodies. These independent bodies are all corralled together to “stand ready” to help deliver key government policies. The letter fails to mention the increasingly important role that is opening up for voluntary and community groups – campaigning alongside service users, trades unions and public sector staff against harmful cuts. To suggest that the sector’s role is to “help individuals and families prepare for and manage change” or “preparing for their impact” in “this time of transition” is frankly offensive to our members, our self-help communities and the users of our services. Our duty, rather, is to listen to and understand the experiences and needs of local people, then act according to our best judgements and consciences.

One responsibility of the independent voluntary sector is – in a constructive spirit of genuine critical thought and independence – to question and challenge policies which our users and members tell us are harmful. It is certainly not to pen letters which demean us all with a willingness to connive in almost anything, however damaging.


Spread the word




Richard Anderson, Co-Chair of Wandsworth Against Cuts; Adrian Barritt, National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA);  Michael Bell, Project Manger, Patchwork Project, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Sandy Bennett & John Stevens, Co-Chairs & Janice Marks, Head of Agency, Federation for Community Development Learning (FCDL); Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against the Cuts; Gaynor Clarke, Project Manager,Scotswood Area Strategy, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Professor John Diamond; Dr Simon Duffy, The Centre for Welfare Reform; Paul Feldman, author Unmasking the State & communications editor, A World To Win;  Val Harris (Chair) Endorsement and Quality Standards Board for Community Development Learning (ESB); Vera Martins, CEO,42nd St, ManchesterJohn McArdle Co-Founder, Black Triangle Campaign; Denise McDowellDirector Greater Manchester Immigration Aid UnitNational Community Activists Network (NatCAN) Admin Team; Lesley Pollard, Chilypep; John Page, secretaryHackney Unites; Steven Rose, Chair English Steering Group, Campaign for a Fair Society & Chief Executive Choice Support; Sarah Sherif, Muslim Community Helpline;Stroud Against the Cuts; Dr. Henry Tam, Director, Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy, University of Cambridge; Tony Taylor, Co-ordinator, In Defence of Youth Work Campaign; Joy Warmington CEO, BRAP; Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit; Maurice Wren, Director Asylum Aid.

Further signatories
111John Barugh
110gary clements
109Jenny Hambidge
108Mike AikenResearcher
107Alisdair CameronLaunchpad
106Lis Pritchard
105Ian FranzenLowton Youth & Community Centre
104Gillian Dalley
103Nazreen A. Subhan
102Jane MelvinUniversity of Brighton
101Peter Durranthumberstone networkers...
100Cally HarrisAnonymous International
99Chris Todd
98Sue BoltonCarer
97David StephensDisabled Peoples Partnership (Wakefield District)
96Christine Bergin
95Daniel BuckleyBankers Association
94Iana ChambersTraining for Work in Communities
93KenyaSue SmartiletoCPN
92Dr. Carol Packham
91Steven Dowd
90Ron Heywood
89Leah Levane
88Colin RochesterBirkbeck, University of London
87Clintom MckoyBlack Palm
86John HamiltonLewisham People Before Profit
85Tom Beattie
84Bernard DaviesConsultant/activist
83Margaret Willett
82Richard Livingstone
81David Shaw
80Richard Clark
79Colin WilsonLadders of Life Adult ADHD / Aspergers
78michelle brown
77mary whitenone
76stuart cox
75sian healey
74kate thomsonnone
73Michael Lee
72Celia Lawton-Livingstone
71Judith Pettigrew
70Alex WatsonCares
68Denis LenihanHackney Unites
67Dave RogersBanner Theatre Company
66Irene Ferguson
65John Farrar
64Dennett Roy
63Alicia WoodHousing & Support Alliance
62cathy wintersgill
61Alex Kashko---
60Jeremy S MillsEquality North West
59richard downesbrent advocacy concerns
58Walt CrowsonLSEN Manchester
57chris walshwise owls
56Rehana Malik
55John DalrympleNeighbourhood Networks
54Richard FarnosConvenor of Queers Against the Cuts
53Mike HigginsDisabled People's Direct Action Network and linda Laurie Associates
52Beatrice Claire GahaganAge Uk Brighton and Hove
51Helen Nicholas
50Aisha Lowrycarer
49Mark DaleBasildon Disability Equality Forum
48Mícheál Furey
47Jane Lowry
46Diana Garcia LopezFoodCycle Manchester (in a personal capacity)
45Joe TaylorNatCAN
44Amanda SebestyenAsylum Education & Legal Fund
43sarah findlayStarter Packs Glasgow
42John PhillipsLangworthy Cornerstone Association
41David Eatock
40annette rimmercommunity radio
39sally daviesRetired social worker/welfare rights worker
38Sue RobsonFreelance community development worker and feminist activist
37Stephen LancashireVarious
36Jane Garnhamindependent
35John SladeLabour/Cooperative Party
34Michael Anthony SnaithGreater Manchester & Beyond Coalition of PLW HIV
33Malcolm AlexanderChair, National Association of LINk Members - (NALM) - in a personal capacity
32Mike Chittynone
31Jim Radfordhonor Oak Park Residents Association
30Susan DowBME Alliance for the East Midlands
29faith gakanjeAfrican Women's Empowerment Forum
28lesley rodgersDragon Dynamics
27shamsher chohanCommunities Inc
26Pete EdwardsErewash Voluntary Action CVS Ltd
25Laird RyanFaiths4Change
24Gordon McFaddenLimbcare
23Valerie Lipman
22Vaughan Bruce
21Diane Law
20Debby Hyams
19Les Bright
18Gordon HunterLincolnshire Community Foundation, Dircetor
17Sean CreightonNone
16Raymond Wilsons.w.p
15Katharine Peake
14Maggie Phelps
13Linda RobinsonFriends of Bentley Priory Nature Reserve
12Bob Widdowson
11Penny Waterhouse
10Andrew Heathman
9Andrew Bunting
8Anthony Boardman
7Jacqueline Smith
6Jayne LinneyDEAEP (Leics)
5Sue BaillieOne Voice, New Forest
4Stephen Kingstonsalford star
3Liliana DmitovicPeoples Republic of Southwark, co-founder
2Andy BensonNCIA
1Yorick Brown

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