This article is designed to update readers on how the JLC has been facilitating the agenda set out from the Prime Ministers meeting in January. The JLC, on behalf of its members, has been focused on the follow up to this meeting.
The past few months have proved challenging, especially with the lead up to the EU Referendum, but we are making solid progress in many of our primary areas of interest.
Earlier this year, the CST secured the £13.4 million from the Government necessary to continue to protect Jewish schools and communal buildings for 2016/17. This was a significant accomplishment and is a testament to the relationship the CST, and the Jewish community at large, have with the Government. While it is a sad reality that these funds are necessary, the Government has absolute confidence in CST to administer these funds effectively and ensure the community is safe and secure.
We have also been working with the Government on behalf of members to understand the ways in which proposed regulations will ensure that local authorities will be precluded from engaging in BDS. We have been discussing these issues with the Cabinet Office, the Crown Commercial Services and the Department for Communities and Local Government, and analyzing the implications for Jewish charitable organisations and the wider community.
With regards to universities, the JLC facilitated a meeting alongside UJS and the CST with Minister Jo Johnson to discuss the situation of Jewish students on campus. This was particularly pertinent in light of the events at the Oxford University Labour Club and the election of Malia Bouattia as NUS President. The partnership between the JLC and UJS will grow stronger in the coming months as we work together, alongside colleagues in the community and across the Government to ensure Jewish students have a safe environment in which they can learn and thrive.
On the schools front, the JLC has facilitated on and behalf of PAJES work with partners at No.10, the Department for Education and Ofsted about the community’s role in shaping a “British Values” curriculum and how to navigate inspections of schools in more religious sections of the Jewish community. On social care, we have come off the back of a constructive meeting with the Prime Minister’s adviser on health and social care where JLC members raised concerns about the national living wage, local authority funding of adult social care, domestic abuse and mental health. This is part of our ongoing dialogue with No10 and the Department of Health – relationships that have deepened in recent months.
A focus in the weeks ahead will be to work with JLC members across the various policy areas and build an overarching policy plan, for which we can effectively lobby together. The goal is to identify the short and long-term challenges on everything from social care and education, to Middle East policy and security, and to adapt our policy, digital and campaigns capacity at a national and local level to realise our goals.
The JLC’s external affairs work across party lines has stepped up in recent months. Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, we held two very successful meetings alongside other communal leaders with Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Angus Robertson, Westminster Group Leader of the Scottish National Party. Both parliamentarians were briefed on a range of matters of importance to the community and both pledged their strong commitment to working with British Jewry on a range of issues. Tim Farron will visit Jewish communal organisations next month and we hope a visit by Angus Robertson will follow shortly thereafter. The JLC is facilitating external affairs work to ensure the community’s concerns are heard across the political spectrum and seeking out partners to advance our agenda wherever they may be and we are committed to working alongside communal partners to this end.