Influencing Policy

Policy decisions, at both a local and national level, can have a large impact on the voluntary and community sector. Decisions around the priorities of Southwark Council and the allocation of resources, are of particular importance for the VCS, and can make a big difference to the way they operate. 

Policy can be defined as 'a set of ideas and proposals for action, culminating in a decision taken by local (or other levels of) government'. 'Policy' refers to the way in which government intends to address issues that are important - such as homelessness, for instance, or schools admissions. Local authorities will develop particular 'policies' or 'strategies' that are focused on key issues, and these policies lay out how they will act. 
 
At a time when local authority budgets are becoming increasingly constrained, it is more important than ever that the sector gets to grips with how local priorities are set, and how policy is developed and decided on. Developing an understanding of policy processes can provide important opportunities for the sector; for example, influencing important council policy such as the budget.
 
With this in mind, Community Southwark have developed some resources which may allow you to gain a better understanding of how policy is formed. These resources focus predominantly on the local level, as we felt that would be of most value for the local VCS. If you need more help with understanding any area of council policy, please contact us at any time - rachel@communitysouthwark.org
 
Community Southwark Useful Resources
 
Local Health Structures - A Guide for the VCS: a simple guide that explains how the various health structures work and how to influence decision makers in Southwark.
 
Community Southwark Resources - Evaluation & Impact: fact sheets and resources to help you measure and evcaluate what you do providing a strong foundation from which to influence
 
Community Southwark Resources - Information about Southwark: Information and resources to help you understand Southwark and the voluntary and community sector in Southwark.
 
How Does Southwark Council Work?: This short, simple guide exlains the structure of the council, how decision making works, and who the key individuals are.
 
Influencing Policy in Southwark - The Full Guide: This extended document provides in-depth details about the council's inner workings, and extensive guidance on how you can influence policy. 
 
Influencing Policy in Southwark - Training Slides: The full set of slides from our half-day training session on influencing policy and influencing the council.
 
Southwark Council Map: A basic document outlining the structure of council departments
 
Influencing Policy Resources 2015: A page of links that you might find useful in your policy influencing work.
 
The Elevator Pitch Exercise: A printable, written exercise to help you get your policy pitch just right. 
 
External Resources 
 
Southwark Council's Constitution: Southwark's Constitution lays out in depth how the decision making process at Southwark works, and what powers individual bodies have.
 
NCVO - Campaigning: NCVO's resources page focusing on campaigns and influencing policy. 
 
Influencing Heath and Social Care Policy: A NAVCA guide to influencing health and social care policy. 
 
Voluntary and Community Sector Policy under the Coalition Government: This useful paper from 2013 outlines how the policy environment for the VCS has changed since 2010.
 
Southwark Council's Procurement ProcessFlowchart and Gateway Decisions: These two diagrams provide some insight into how the council procures its services. 
 
Democracy Matters Influencing Local Government Action Guide: Useful document to help you define your policy message