Following the General Election, how will Bristol’s elected MPs work with the VCSE sector?

28 September, 2017
Parliament's summer recess is over, and elected MPs are returning to Parliament, fresh from their conferences.
Voscur caught up with Bristol’s four elected MPs to get their take on the issues facing the city's voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, and find out how they plan to work with the sector to build a better Bristol for all.  
(For a broader, national picture of MPs' priorities for the VCSE sector, please click here to see NFP Synergy's overview and key findings).
Darren Jones, elected MP for Bristol North West

What are the key challenges for the VCSE sector after this general election?
The VCSE sector plays a crucial role, alongside Local Authorities, in bringing communities together, providing advice and supporting our most vulnerable residents in many and complex ways. I am acutely aware that these organisations face a significant number of challenges locally, not least in relation to cuts to local government funding impacting on the budgets councils have to support the VCSE sector and engage in joint activities. Here in Bristol, due to severe and ongoing cuts from central Government, rising costs due to inflation and the council's legal requirement to set a balanced budget, the council needs to save £106million before 2022. 
The impact of government austerity, coupled with the rising need for many of the sector's services such as Foodbanks, children's organisations and welfare advice have left the sector facing a dual challenge - how to do more with less. For example, North Bristol Foodbank, based on Filton Avenue, released stats that showed since being set-up in July 2012 it has given out 15,036 emergency supplies of food. This food bank, like the majority up and down the country, has seen an increase in the number of emergency supplies needed year on year as people find themselves requiring support due to government policy changes impacting on benefit payments and the rise in low paid and unstable work.  
Imposed cuts are forcing the voluntary sector to discontinue many existing services and are also impeding the development of new ones. 
How do you plan to work with the VCSE sector to meet these challenges?
I will be meeting with a wide variety of local organisations, constituents and politicians to ensure I have the latest information. I am committed to ensuring that the impact of austerity, and the voices of VCSE, are heard in Parliament, and here in Bristol. I will be working hard to ensure that Bristol North West continues to have access to the high quality and vitally-important services the VCSE sector provides.
0117 9596545
Karin Smyth, elected Labour MP for Bristol South

What are the key challenges for the VCSE sector after this general election?
Whilst we have heard that the election outcome signals the ‘end of austerity’, organisations will rightly be sceptical. We can fully expect that, after already suffering seven years of squeezed spending, local voluntary sector organisations will continue to face pressures from Government cuts.
The severe impact of cuts like those currently being imposed on the city council doesn’t look likely to ease off any time soon, so local groups will continue to face ever growing demand as they support our communities. Where they are able they will pull out all the stops to pick up the pieces, but continuing austerity also means a further squeeze on charitable giving and other funding sources.
We all know Brexit is the single issue that will dominate in the next few years and so it is vital that VCSEs understand the implications of the UK leaving the European Union for their organisation, and their decision-makers, staff, volunteers and supporters.
I ask the sector to be vigilant because to a large extent the Brexit agenda will dictate the Parliamentary decision-making timetable. Significant issues affecting the work of local organisations, that they want to see tackled by legislation, could remain unaddressed as a result.
And where proposals ARE put forward they have an important part to play in ensuring resulting legislation receives appropriate Parliamentary scrutiny. I’m sure the sector will remain vigilant to proposals to ensure their influential voices are heard in a timely and effective way, and I look forward to working with those serving my constituency to ensure this happens.
How do you plan to work with the VCSE sector to meet these challenges?
Bristol South has a long and proud history of support from some excellent community-based organisations that reflect the needs and priorities of people living here. They have a firm commitment to supporting individuals and neighbourhoods and have proved themselves to meet changing demands placed on them by public bodies and by society as a whole.
Since first being elected as Bristol South’s MP in 2015, I have met with a number of you to find out about the great work you do, and frequently to help bring organisations together to make a tangible difference. To give just one example, a number of charities operating in south Bristol attend my regular Money Entitlement One Stop Shop community events which help residents claim the financial benefits they are entitled to.
The meetings I’ve had with these organisations have also given me an important opportunity to learn about their aspirations and challenges. I look forward to this work continuing so I am then able to represent concerns at Parliamentary level. As before, I can be contacted by email at
0117 953 3575
Kerry McCarthy, elected Labour MP for Bristol East

What are the key challenges for the VCSE sector after this general election?
As Government cuts to local councils’ budgets continue to bite, it’s becoming more competitive for VCSE organisations who are bidding for funding – while demand for services continues to rise in Bristol. Collaboration has never been more important. With the Tories still in power, the Lobbying Act is still in place. It should be repealed. There’s no question about it: it gags numerous VCSE organisations – the very people whose voices we need more of in policy debates.
How do you plan to work with the VCSE sector to meet these challenges?
The VCSE sector in Bristol East is thriving! So far this year, I’ve been supporting St George in Bloom and was pleased to see them recently win £5,000 of funding to help them keep brightening up St George. I’ve supported bids by organisations from across the constituency to use their expertise and energy to keep improving our communities. In the last few weeks, I’ve launched Feeding Bristol – along with the Mayor of Bristol and Andy Street at the 5K Partnership – to help coordinate our city’s response to rising food poverty with local VCSE organisations and other stakeholders. On this, and across the board, I’ll keep listening to you – the experts – and my door will always be open for VCSE organisations from Bristol East.
0117 939 9901
Thangam Debbonaire, elected Labour MP for Bristol West

What are the key challenges for the VCSE sector after this general election? 
The funding cuts by central government to local government continue to bite and affect the overall amount of money available for local authorities to commission services from the VCSE. As wages and economic growth both remain static, individual and corporate donations to small charities may also be limited. 
How do you plan to work with the VCSE sector to meet these challenges?
I hope that the VCSE sector will keep me informed and let me know when and if I need to challenge government or support the sector in other ways.
0117 3790981


Resources for VCSE Sector groups that want to influence central Government

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