Conservative leader David Cameron has said he would allow charities to make a profit from delivering public services if the Tories win the next general election.
Speaking at the launch of a green paper on voluntary action yesterday, Cameron said too many voluntary organisations were losing money or “merely breaking even” on public sector contracts.
The policy would see the voluntary sector Compact, which lays out how public bodies should treat charities, strengthened to ensure greater compliance from the statutory sector.
Cameron criticised Labour for creating a “funding jungle” for charities and called for funding streams to be simplified. He said a Conservative government would move away from restrictive contract conditions in order to help more flexible community-based organisations. This would include the greater use of multi-year grants.
Other proposals included replacing the Big Lottery Fund by an independent fund that would distribute exclusively to charities and voluntary organisations to avoid money being “cannibalised by government initiatives”.
If elected, the Conservatives would also replace the Office of the Third Sector with a “powerful” Office of Civil Society and create a new parliamentary select committee to scrutinise voluntary sector policy.
NCVO/NCH welcome plans
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the proposals were “a promising start”, and welcomed the opportunity for charities to profit from public sector work. He added: “In particular we are pleased that the Conservatives have expressed clear support for longer-term, strategic funding, and for contracts which focus on the desired outcome rather than the process.”
Clare Tickell, chief executive of children’s charity NCH, also welcomed the initiative. She said: “The paper provides charities offering public services with adequate funding, freedom in delivery and longer-term grants – all are critical elements for truly meeting service users’ needs.”
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