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Liberal Democrat party manifesto – NCVO comment

Ruth Driscoll, head of policy and public services at NCVO, said:

'A welcome theme of support for social action and community rights runs throughout this manifesto. Their focus on early intervention, as we have long called for, would better support vulnerable people and would lead to long-term cost savings.

Lobbying act review

'The party's proposal on the Lobbying Act, to draw on Lord Hodgson's work, is a sensible position which will allow future policy development to be best informed by evidence about the impact of the current legislation.

'More widely, the manifesto appears to recognise the value of the public having a voice in decision-making. The voluntary sector's role in providing and enabling this must be protected.

On public services

'We welcome the proposal to improve incentives for Work Programme providers, many of which are charities, supporting those furthest from the labour market. We have suggested this could be achieved through milestone payments that recognise the progress made supporting those with the most complex needs.

'It's unclear whether the party proposes including charitable providers in its extension of FOI in public services. We recognise the importance of transparency in public services, no matter who provides them, but any extension to voluntary sector providers would need to be carefully designed to ensure it is manageable.

Charitable status for media

'Expanding charitable status to local media which are providing clear public benefit makes sense, especially given the economic pressures faced by local media, but problems are likely to arise for the Charity Commission in adjudicating what constitutes public benefit in this area. Publications taking a stance on local political issues would struggle to justify charitable status, for example.'

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