Headlines: September 29th, 2004

Voluntary organisations and charities will today call on Labour party policy makers and parliamentary candidates to recognise the value that volunteers bring to society. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is to use the Labour Conference in Brighton to showcase its own election manifesto, which will then go out to its members for consultation.NCVO is urging the next government to lend stronger support to the role of charities in building community cohesion and encouraging civil engagement. It also wants politicians to build on existing support for the voluntary sector’s role in the delivery of public services.

NCVO Chief Executive Stuart Etherington will be joined at the fringe event in Brighton by speakers Paul Boateng and the journalist and social commentator Polly Toynbee. Mr. Etherington will call for the charities’ role to be moved far higher up the political agenda after the next General Election.

He will tell the meeting, “The next government needs to have a much broader agenda for charities and voluntary organisations, which embraces voluntary action as a means of providing support for the most marginalised individuals and communities. Politicians must recognise that many charities, particularly small local organisations, play an essential role in communities throughout the UK without ever being likely to participate in public service delivery.”

The NCVO’s 2004 Voluntary Sector Almanac shows that the voluntary sector’s single biggest source of money – 37 per cent – is from the Government. Mr. Etherington says this is due largely to big national charities receiving payment for the delivery of services in areas like health, training and education and care. In contrast small local charities get an average of eleven per cent of their income from government and half of it from the public. While the income of charities with an annual income over a million pounds has grown recently, the incomes of smaller voluntary organisations have fallen.

The ideas in the NCVO draft manifesto, which are designed to influence the policies of Parliamentary candidates and the next government, are to go out for consultation to the voluntary sector before the manifesto’s planned launch at the NCVO Annual Conference next February.