Plans to cut red tape, promote charitable giving and get more people involved
Bob Blackman, prospective parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, haswelcomed important new proposals from Conservative leader, David Cameron, to help boost the work of charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across Harrow. A series of practical policies seek to strengthen the voluntary sector, cut unnecessary red tape and get more people involved in local charities and local community groups.
The Conservative policy proposals include:
- Simplifying the Gift Aid system to reduce the bureaucratic burden on charities and promote more charitable giving
- Replacing the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) and with a Voluntary Action Lottery Fund; the BLF has attracted criticism for giving grants to controversial causes and spending money on government services rather than funding voluntary good causes.
- Creating a network of Social Enterprise Zones to boost social investment in deprived communities.
- Cutting unnecessary red tape and form-filling.
- Establishing a one-stop funding portal for significant government grants, to help voluntary groups through the confusing ‘jungle’ of different state grants.
- Enabling the voluntary sector to compete on an equal footing with the private sector to provide services.
- Promoting co-operatives, to allow local communities to run, and own, community assets and set up new government-funded schools.
Bob Blackman said:
“I welcome these new proposals to help boost local charities and community groups across Harrow by cutting red tape, encouraging more charitable giving and helping social enterprise to provide local services.
“The social challenges we face today are every bit as serious as the economic challenges Britain faced in 1979. The big dividing line in British politics today is about the role of the state. Gordon Brown believes in top-down state control; Conservatives believe in bottom-up social responsibility.”
Notes to Editors
The Conservative Party’s Voluntary Action in the 21st Century Green Paper was published on 3 June 2008.
The policy proposals include pledges to:
1. Simplify the Gift Aid system to reduce the bureaucratic burden on charities.
2. Work with charities to sponsor a debate on whether it is possible to establish a new social norm around charitable giving.
3. Direct support for volunteering through grassroots volunteering organisations not government quangos.
4. Prioritise development work in ‘charity deserts’ to establish new volunteer-led organisations where none previously existed.
5. Support efforts to establish regular volunteering as a social norm – leading by example by giving central government employees an annual entitlement to at least eight hours volunteering.
6. Reduce the burden of regulation on volunteers – improving the system for Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks and clearing up the confusion over benefit rules.
7. Replace the Big Lottery Fund with a Voluntary Action Lottery Fund dedicated in its entirety to the voluntary and community sector – returning the National Lottery to its original four good causes.
8. Respect the difference between grants and contracts – using contracts, rather than grants, only where there is a clear justification.
9. Operate a genuine one-stop funding portal for significant government grants.
10. Set up a funding passport scheme so that voluntary organisations can bypass repetitive grant application and contract tendering bureaucracy.
11. Draw up model grant and contract agreements to minimise the bureaucracy facing voluntary organisations in seeking funds.
12. Create a network of Social Enterprise Zones to provide incentives for social investment in deprived communities.
13. Set up a Social Investment Bank as a wholesaler of ‘patient capital’ to a wide range of social investment institutions.
14. Allow voluntary organisations delivering public services to earn a competitive return on investment by sharing substantially in the rewards that come from success.
15. Offer multi-year funding terms on contracts and grant agreements.
16. Remove the interference and bureaucracy of state funding by agreeing on goals and outcomes, not dictating methods of delivery.
17. Agree and implement a Co-operative Action Plan – empowering and enabling co-ops to play a much bigger role in running and owning community assets and services.
18. Create a powerful Office for Civil Society at the heart of government to fight for the interests of charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and community groups.
19. Ensure proper democratic scrutiny of government policy towards the voluntary sector – led by a new civil society select committee.
20. Enforce an improved version of the Compact on relations between government and the voluntary sector.