Acevo lobbies parties on red tape

Acevo is preparing to bombard both the Government and the opposition with examples of the problems voluntary organisations face from the red tape incurred in running government contracts.

The association sent letters to its 1,650 members on Monday, asking them to supply evidence of excessive bureaucracy and waste in their contact with public bodies.

It plans to send these on to both main political parties, which are launching rival investigations into inefficiency and waste in public services. Acevo aims to show that the voluntary sector can do better than the public sector, and simultaneously influence both manifestos in the run-up to the next election.

"Many of our members have 10, 20 or even 30 bodies that they have to report back to, and that makes it very difficult to run services," said Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb.

The Government's Efficiency Review, announced by the Chancellor in his Budget speech last Spring, aims to identify and eradicate inefficiency so as to maximise investment in public services, and free up professionals so they can better meet the needs of clients.

When the Government's review was officially launched with the publication of a consultation document in October, there was no mention of voluntary organisations, despite the role that the sector plays in service delivery.

Anxious that the voluntary sector should have a voice, Acevo sought a meeting last week with the head of the Office of Government Commerce, Peter Gershon, who is leading the joint Treasury and Cabinet Office team working on the review.

"The meeting was very positive, and I am confident that Gershon fully understands the part that the sector plays," said Bubb. "We agreed that in the next four weeks we would provide real examples of how exactly excess red tape ties up organisations."

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party's 'James Report', headed by business trouble-shooter David James, aims to uncover waste, bureaucracy and micro-management in public service delivery, and will help the Tories pull the Government up in areas where it is performing badly.

Last week, Conservative leader Michael Howard took out a full-page advert in The Guardian, appealing to public sector workers to report waste, bureaucracy and incompetence to the James Report.

The fortuitous timing of the Howard ad means that Acevo will also send any information to the Tories as well as the Government.

The Conservative Party has since come under fire from the European Central Bank, the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association for using what they say were inaccurate figures and out-of-date quotes in the newspaper advert.

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