Government departments have bought more than £488m of services from the voluntary sector since May 2010, according to the junior Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin.
Speaking at Cabinet Office questions in the House of Commons yesterday, Letwin was asked by Jon Ashworth, the Labour MP for Leicester South, what progress the government had made in increasing the number of central government contracts with the third sector.
"Since May 2010, there have been 702 purchase orders for third sector services from the Department of Health alone," said Letwin. "There have also been 94 contracts with third sector organisations from five different departments."
He said the Department for Work and Pensions had given 47 contracts to the voluntary sector, the Ministry of Justice 21 and the Department for International Development 15. The Department for Transport had seven contracts with the sector, he said, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had four.
"These contracts have a total value of more than £488m," Letwin said. He could not say whether this had increased or fallen since the coalition government came to power because the previous Labour government did not keep a record of these figures, he said.
Also at Cabinet Office questions, civil society minister Nick Hurd said the government would announce "some steps to promote wider awareness of the opportunity of being a trustee".
He was responding to a question from the Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, who asked what the government could do to address the shortage of charity trustees.