Leader hails role of voluntary sector in Greater Manchester

Date published: 12 January 2019

Rochdale council leader Allen Brett has hailed the importance of the voluntary sector to Greater Manchester.

Speaking at a city centre event where local leaders set out their vision for the future of the region, he said ‘third sector’ organisations had a more vital role to play than ever in the wake of austerity.

Councillor Brett has worked closely with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to set out the region’s future relationship with the sector, including the signing of an accord with the conurbation’s 16,000 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.

He also chairs a commission that looks into how co-operatives can help Greater Manchester achieve its goals around jobs, education and public services, as well as reducing inequality.

Responding to a question from Greater Manchester Deputy Mayor, Baroness Beverley Hughes, Councillor Brett said the third sector was ‘vital to the economy’.

He added: “And it’s even more vital now with the fact that many local government services have been curtailed. The voluntary sector has not replaced them, but stepped in to try to help.”

Councillor Brett went on to say that measures such as becoming a member of the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network (CCIN) would ‘ensure that Greater Manchester stays at the forefront of co-operation and the full movement’.

Under the CCIN councils work together to find better ways of working for and with the communities they serve.

And Councillor Brett agreed with Baroness Hughes that voluntary organisations also played a crucial role in helping councils reach people in their communities.

He said: “The sector goes everywhere, it has to be a grassroots up and not a top-down thing.

“We seem to concentrate on co-operatives, my background is in that and we have the largest consumer co-operative based here in the city centre.

“But we have to remember there are smaller co-operatives in every borough throughout Greater Manchester. The other big areas they have a vital role to play is in housing and I think we will see that.

“The other one, that again fits in with the Mayor’s strategy are cycling co-operatives and all aspects of it.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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