Alun Michael MP warns against abolition of sector quangos

Chair of all-party parliamentary group says cuts 'do not bode well'

Alun Michael MP
Alun Michael MP
Alun Michael MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on civil society and volunteering, has warned that the abolition of voluntary sector quangos named in a leaked government document could mean policy decisions being taken without the involvement of the sector.

The document, which was leaked last week, contains plans to abolish 180 quangos, including the third sector infrastructure bodies Capacitybuilders and the Commission for the Compact, and the Office for Civil Society Advisory Body.

The Labour MP told Third Sector that the abolition of those bodies "did not bode well" for the sector's relationship with the government.

"These organisations were set up to improve communication between the government and the voluntary sector," he said. "There is a danger that the government will revert to taking decisions, then telling the sector afterwards."

He added: "It seems the government has taken an old-fashioned approach of looking at the finances then drawing a line through things it doesn't like the look of, without thinking about the consequences."

Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive of Acevo, said: "This government has placed a huge amount of emphasis on empowering voluntary and community groups, but these plans have the potential to be tremendously disempowering."

He said the infrastructure bodies should be replaced with government provision, which could include giving the Compact agreement statutory powers and allocating Cabinet Office funds for capacity building directly to charities that received funding from other departments for service provision.

Bill Freeman, director of consultancy services at local infrastructure body Navca, said Capacitybuilders and the Commissioner for the Compact had had a positive impact on the sector. "If they are to go, the work they are doing must continue," he said. "The government needs to invest in strong infrastructure and a strong Compact if it wants a big society."

- See editorial.

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