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Conservative party manifesto – NCVO comment

Commenting on the Conservative Party manifesto, Ruth Driscoll, head of policy and public services at NCVO, said:

'It is positive that the manifesto reflects a continuing commitment to the principles of voluntarism and putting power in the hands of communities. Nevertheless, under the past government this desire has been hampered by public spending settlements which have been very challenging for many charities.

On the Work Programme, welfare and the expansion of payment by results

'We welcome the pledge to get the voluntary sector more involved in public service delivery. It is important though that the next government is just as supportive of the sector's crucial role in shaping services and providing a voice to users.

'The Conservatives have committed to expanding use of payment-by-results and cite the Work Programme as an example of harnessing the expertise of charities. However, our research found that many voluntary sector organisations were shut out of the Work Programme precisely because of the use of this payment system.

'We oppose the proposal by both the Conservative and Labour parties to retain an arbitrary cap on overall welfare spending as this is unlikely to enable the government to meet the needs of families living in poverty that are increasingly reliant on voluntary sector organisations.

On volunteering leave proposals

'We'll need to see the details of this proposal, but it has the potential to help strengthen the UK's culture of volunteering. It's important to remember that volunteering isn't actually free, and charities and volunteering infrastructure may require some additional support if such a scheme were to expand quickly.

On the proposal to extend the Aid Match scheme

'We welcome the proposal to extend funding for the work of overseas development charities and hope this will be used to support locally-owned development in poor countries.'

On the Conservatives' commitment to 'being the most transparent government in the world'

'We welcome this commitment to greater transparency. We hope that in practice this will include ensuring we get better data on outsourced public services - including information on how charities are treated in public contractor supply chains. We hope also that previous proposals to restrict the FOI Act will make no reappearance.

On the proposal to scrap the Human Rights Act

'This is a short-sighted proposal which, combined with recent restrictions on judicial review and legal aid, undermines the principles of access to justice and the rule of law which are crucial to protect everyone in society.'

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