Montage of Yorkshire and Humber scenes

Who's who in Yorkshire and Humber - report

Seminar, Leeds, July 4th 2011

This Involve Yorkshire & Humber seminar was designed to present the work of government departments in Yorkshire and Humber, offering participants an opportunity to consider what they do and how the voluntary and community sector (VCS) might be involved.


Judy Robinson, Chief Executive of Involve Yorkshire & Humber, set the scene, highlighting the scale of the local and national changes since the Coalition Government came into office in May 2010.  

Any activity which had formerly been described as 'regional' has fallen dramatically from favour.  However 'local' now has various meanings, including, in some cases, 'regional' or 'regions'. The geography of how departments are organising their work outside the national or local is now fragmented, so much more difficult to engage with across the various remits.  Judy noted the lack of certainty in the political environment, with no consistent definition of the big society, for example, and consequently no consistent policy development.  

Nevertheless these departments and agencies are doing work which affects people and communities in Yorkshire & Humber.

Key points from speakers

Isobel Mills (Director of the Business, Innovation and Skills local team)

Isobel, formerly Deputy Director of the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, is based in Leeds.  She has a team of seven, covering Yorkshire and Humber, and the north-east.   Three are in Leeds, and four in the north east.  

Isobel noted: 

  • The emphatic London centric approach demonstrated by the Government

  • BIS is all about the landscape for economic delivery.  This  focuses on banks, education, skills and (land use) planning

  • Within this policy landscape, the creation of future jobs dominates.

Isobel recommended:

  • Take every opportunity to showcase northern issues in Whitehall, especially positive job creation

  • Engage creatively and positively with LEPs and local authorities 

  • Work on new models of delivery, such as finance and the development of bonds, the Big Society Bank.

Above all, remember it’s jobs and the economy that matters. Positive examples of positive change and development is what will interest government. Don’t look back

 See Isobel's presentation

 Contact Isobel Mills

Steven Nesbitt (Team Leader, Resilience and Emergencies Division – North.  Department of Communities and Local Government)

Steve set out the work of his team and the new arrangements following the closure of Government Offices:

  • There are now four Resilience teams, one of which is based in Leeds and covers the north-west, Yorkshire and Humber and the north-east. These are based based on police force boundaries.

  • The Teams are responsible for activity in relation to civil emergencies such as flooding, accidents and pandemics.

  • They work on helping to identify risks, liaison between different responders and between departments and sharing expertise.

Steve identified the  important role of the voluntary sector in resilience and emergencies including:

  • VCS representation on Local Resilience Forums

  • intelligence about vulnerable people

  • skills, such as volunteer management

  • helping communities recover after an event.

See Steve's presentation

Contact Steven Nesbit

Paul Schofield (Local Intelligence Team Officer, Office for Civil Society, the Cabinet Office)

Paul is the local officer for Yorkshire and Humber.  He described the activities and interests which he is keen to stimulate here, working with the VCS:

  • A Big Society team is working on the behavioural changes required to develop and support a healthy community, using the ideas of 'nudge'

  • Open Public Services White Paper. (Involve Yorkshire & Humber will be submitting a response)

  • The social innovation team, the Giving White Paper.  (Yorkshire and Humber Rural Network response to the Giving Green Paper)

  • Corporate social responsibility. How can we make much more effective use of business skills, those that pay for the BMW?

  • Making money work more intelligently – bartering public services budgets, for example.  If the pavements were fixed, fewer people would trip up and less demand would be put on hospital A & E departments.   The development of public service vehicles.

  • The Big Society Bank. An event to be held in September.

  • Social action – community organisers (See presentation by Jess Steele, Locality lead on Community Organisers, at Involve Yorkshire & Humber conference Village hall to Whitehall.) 

  • Community first – local versions of investment

  • The National Citizens Service

  • Support for charities through the reduction of red tape, the charity law review 

  • Infrastructure fund

  • Mutuals and community commissioning (Paul’s national responsibility)

  • Training for commissioners on the assessment of social value

  • A different culture within public services eg a government ambition that every public sector worker should be able to suggest how their role could be spun out to the private sector

Contact Paul Schofield

Garry White (Department of Communities and Local Government)

Responsibility for the European Programmes has now moved from Regional Development Agencies and BIS to CLG, with the local team being based in Lateral in Leeds. This team will be led by the head of the Programme Delivery team for the north-east, Lesley Calder, splitting her time between Leeds and Newcastle.

There will be a Local Management Committee (LMC) for the Yorkshire and Humber European Regional Development Fund (replacing the Programme Management Committee) chaired by a CLG director with two 'local' deputy chairs – John Mothersole, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council and Professor Colin Mellors, Pro Vice Chancellor, the University of York.  

This LMC, which includes the voluntary sector through Judy Robinson Chief Executive of Involve Yorkshire & Humber, and John Illingworth of the Goodwin Development Trust, is responsible for the management of the ERDF programme. This runs till 2013, bringing millions of investment to Yorkshire & Humber to promote enterprise and regeneration.

Contact Lesley Calder

Shehla Husain (Department of Communities and Local Government)

Shehla is one of the  locality managers responsible for Leeds City and Wakefield Metrop[olitan Borough Council..There are five others for the remaining areas of Yorkshire and Humber all based at CLG in London.  These roles have been created in a cross Whitehall approach.

  • to encourage the accountability and transparency of government

  • to act as an interface between CLG and local areas following the closure of Government Offices

  • to pick up intelligence and concerns

  • they want to work in dialogue with key people, including the VCS

  • Shehla is working on the impact of cuts to the VCS in different local authorities.


Judy asked participants for their key concerns, issues and ambitions:

  • We are being required to do more, whilst having our funds reduced.  Where is the support for transition?

  • In health, the preventative agenda is disappearing

  • Rural proofing of all policies is required

  • Long term projects are losing their funding so charities are being forced to subsidise government

  • If the vcs is required to deliver local authority contracts to survive, the space to innovate shrinks.

  • The loss of all infrastructure support and the consequent loss of services, training and support for VCS organisations at more local level

  • More support for private/VCS partnership development.

Involve Yorkshire & Humber will take these issues into conversations at sub-national and national levels so that the experience of the VCS in Yorkshire & Humber is heard.

Future seminars

Involve Yorkshire & Humber is planning a programme of seminars help the voluntary sector to get the facts and what they mean. Contact us if you would like to be told directly about forthcoming seminars.

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