Headlines: February 21st, 2007



Investment in a Third Sector Skills Council and giving citizens a real voice in their communities are among issues that voluntary organisations want Gordon Brown to treat as priorities if he takes over as Prime Minister. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has today set out its hopes for Gordon Brown’s first 100 days in office.

The priorities are being issued as more than 600 delegates gather for the NCVO’s annual conference at which they will also hear a call for strong leadership in the sector to ensure that politicians’ words of commitment to voluntary and community organisations are not lost in a new political environment. Delegates to the conference, taking place under the title “Inspiring leaders: connecting communities”, will each be issued with a pledge card outlining five priorities for a Brown Government.

The priorities are a guarantee that Lottery funds are protected for the future of good causes, the securing of Government accountability to the voluntary sector through Parliament, ensuring charity regulation delivers public benefit, investment in the benefits of a Third Sector Skills Council and steps to empower citizens, giving them a real voice in their communities and services.

NCVO’s Chief Executive Stuart Etherington said the voluntary and community sector should be staking its claim to be at the heart of Mr.Brown’s new agenda as he and his advisors weighed up the key policies for the opening days of his Premiership. The five priorities, he said, encompassed key concerns for organisations including securing sustainable funding and putting the sector at the heart of democratic debate.

In his speech to the conference today, Mr. Etherington will warn that the current political and economic situation should not be taken for granted and he will call for strong leadership to keep the voluntary and community sector on track, clear about its agenda and ensuring that ‘fine words of commitment from politicians to voluntary and community organisations are not lost in what may become a more testing environment.’