Headlines: April 13th, 2010

Community and voluntary groups across Britain are being urged to take advantage of the media focus on the May elections to make sure their priorities are on the agenda for local and national candidates. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is reminding groups that they can, and should, campaign to get their voices heard in spite of stricter rules about charities remaining non-political in the pre-election ‘purdah’ period.

The NCVO chief executive, Stuart Etherington, said the election campaign was a key time for charities to raise awareness among would-be MPs and councillors about the needs of the people their organisations served to ensure they were on the political agenda. Organisations had to follow the guidance of the Charity Commission and needed to be non-partisan but that did not mean they could not approach and speak to candidates for local authorities and Westminster.

“Our manifesto, which outlines our sector’s needs from any future government, regardless of its political make-up,will form the basis of our talks with politicians at a national level. Now we are urging our members and other voluntary groups to challenge their own local and national candidates to ask them what they believe in and, more importantly, what they are going to do about it,”he said.

NCVO’s manifesto includes calls for people and communities to be able to take control of community assets more easily and a ‘Robin Hood’ tax of about 0.05 per cent on banking transactions to raise money for good causes as well as a community day bank holiday and five days paid leave for volunteering.