Sector key to UK's economic recovery, says Cable

Liberal Democrat deputy leader says charities have a crucial role to play

The voluntary sector could play a crucial role in helping the UK to recover from recession – if it receives sufficient funding, according to Vincent Cable, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

"I expect you could be a critical voice because the private sector is paralysed and government is struggling," Cable told delegates at the NCVO annual conference in London yesterday.

He warned that the sector faced a "scissors crisis": a "quantum leap in expectations" coupled with threats to funding as central government passed financial problems on to local government, investments massively underperformed and donations from the wealthy fell.

"Much is expected of you," he said. "Whether you can deal with the resource problem, I don't know."

With government funding likely to be severely constrained for the next two to three years, "the expectation that government could be the motor force for recovery is severely misplaced", Cable said.

"That is going to have to come from the private sector and the voluntary sector," he said.

The voluntary sector had a vital role to play in delivering independent advice to people affected by the economic crisis and providing social housing for those whose homes had been repossessed, he said.

Charities could also help the growing number of socially excluded people who were no longer able to secure credit from banks, he said.

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