Spending reviews should protect the voluntary sector, says NCVO

Umbrella body urges strengthening of the Compact and a level playing field for public sector tenders

The National Council of Voluntary Organisations has called on the government to ensure the net effect of departmental spending reviews on the sector is "at least neutral".

In its submission to the Treasury spending review, the NCVO says the Treasury should ask departments "to be mindful of the need to strengthen civil society, and therefore to look at the impact of spending decisions on the voluntary and community sector".

It also warns that the unpredictable nature of future spending cuts is making planning very difficult for voluntary groups.

The 11-page submission outlines points that the NCVO wants the government to consider.

These include:

  • strengthening the Compact, the agreement that sets out how public and voluntary sector organisations should treat each other;
  • ensuring a "level playing field" for public sector contracts so that the third sector can compete for them fairly.

The submission also says that voluntary and community organisations will need high quality support to maximise their contribution to building the big society, transforming public service delivery and enabling more effective citizen engagement.

"NCVO recognises that existing support services could be rationalised to become more efficient, effective and sustainable," it says. "We will work with other umbrella bodies and VCOs to achieve the change that is required.

"Government can assist this process by creating an enabling environment, for example by investing in this process. At the very least it should ensure that its decisions do not act as a disincentive to change."

The submission welcomes government plans to reform Gift Aid and measures to devolve more power to local councils.

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