Belinda Pratten is an independent consultant with extensive experience of working in and with the voluntary and community sector, including large national charities, grant making trusts and smaller, specialist organisations. She also teaches on the Community Development and Leadership degree at London Metropolitan University and contributes to the University's international programme for community development and social entrepreneurship.
With Parliament in recess it’s a good time for policy wonks and campaigners to reflect on the year just gone – and the year ahead. And looking back, what a year its been: if nothing else, politics has started to get interesting again.
In the short term, the recent election may not have changed much on the ground, but it was certainly a sign that the public mood is shifting. A warning shot across the bows of austerity – with public services now all too clearly struggling and the deficit still growing, people are asking if the very real pain is worth the ever-receding gain of a budget surplus. Add to this the continued uncertainty over Brexit, and the deep divisions within both the main political parties on this issue – as well as in the country as a whole, and the future looks as clear as mud.
Belinda PrattenGuest blog: Politics has just got interesting again
Rumours are swirling that charities have been silenced by the Lobbying Act during the election period, prevented from speaking out in support of their beneficiaries or cause. The Guardian, for example, reports that ‘sector leaders feel muzzled’ by the Act. But while it has undoubtedly helped to create a ‘chilling climate’ for campaigning, its impact must not be exaggerated: charities should – indeed must – carry on campaigning.