Many government polices for voluntary sector are worthless, says Theodoreson

The chair of the Charity Finance Group says much of what the government does makes little difference to the sector

Ian Theodoreson
Ian Theodoreson

Many government policies designed to support the voluntary sector make only a marginal difference or are "not worth the paper they are written on", Ian Theodoreson, chair of the Charity Finance Group, told his organisation’s annual conference this morning.

In the opening address, Theodoreson said that the government had proposed many policies that, "on the surface, sought to support, nurture and develop our sector".

He said: "But look under the lid and the difference they’ll make is often marginal. Or they get so tied up in senseless regulation and bureaucracy that they’re not worth the paper they are written on."

He said that public service delivery by charities was a good example of a policy that looked good for the sector but had not worked.

"The government says it wants to open up public service markets and have a wider mix of service providers, including charities, but we are not seeing charities win these contracts in practice," he said.

"One reason for this is scale and size. But merger for many who would like to consider it is not an option because the pension risks and liabilities are too great."

Theodoreson told the conference that the recent Budget had been "the worst Budget for charities that I have experienced in 25 years in the sector" and that George Osborne’s tax cap was the first policy he had seen that had unified the sector in its opposition.

"If this government, with its rhetoric on big society, had been seeking to build a ‘special relationship’ with the sector, this Budget has killed that idea," he said.

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