Our final article on the Manifestos, and I must say I’m glad we only have an election every 5 years! This is a very brief summary of the main policy points we think you in the Voluntary will want to know about. Lets start with the the Lib Dems.
The Liberals have strong theme of support for social action and community rights throughout the the manifesto. Ruth Driscoll, Head of policy and public Services at the NCVO welcomes “their focus on early intervention” “which would better support vulnerable people and would lead to long-term cost saving”
Improved incentives for work programme providers, many of which are voluntary organisations. To update the Lobbying act to draw on Lord Hodgson’s work is also seen are very positive.
The manifesto recognises the value of the public having a voice in decision-making. The voluntary sectors role in providing and enabling this must be protected through it is not clear how this will be done.
UKIP have said they would like to energise the voluntary sector in the build up to this manifesto, but what does that mean. They are committed to scrap National Citizen service, repeal international Aid, reduce the cabinet office spend on ‘big society projects’ and scrap the Defra Waste resource action project. They believe this will save £250 million in the first year.
They would replace these projects with the funding of 800 Food bank and local advice centres, a veterans administration that would coordinate the work of existing charities and most interesting is the funding of “community agents and the voluntary sector” although detail is very thin on the ground.
They also claim that by leaving the EU they would be able to offer more VAT relief to charitable organisations on some services and products.
What is clear, all parties recognise the importance of the voluntary sector, especially in a time of economic difficulty and for the poorest in society. There does seem to be some real difference’s in how they think the sector should be funded and governed, and the role of government in that process. Who ever wins, I think the sector is going to see even greater change over the next parliament and will need to ready to adapt.