Tories 'will place charities at heart of election campaign'

The role of charities and community groups in reforming civil society will be one of the main policies on which Conservative leader David Cameron will fight the next General Election.

Cameron's intentions were spelled out by the recently appointed shadow charities minister, Greg Clark, in an interview with Third Sector last week.

"When David appointed me at the end of last November, he said he wanted to make this the centre of the next election campaign," said Clark.

"He said an expanded view of the sector was at the heart of what he expected a Cameron administration to be."

Clark said that he and Cameron were working on four key policy areas and would be communicating their proposals in the coming months. The areas are public service delivery, giving, volunteering and regulation.

On service delivery, Clark said he would like to see an increasing role for the sector in public services. But he and Cameron were considering questions of capacity and how the market could be broken up to involve more small, local groups in service delivery.

He said that they were also looking at ways to stimulate private and corporate giving, and at how the Conservatives could help encourage volunteering at a local level.

"If you talk to a lot of the groups on the ground, at the top of their list of concerns is how they are going to get enough volunteers," Clark said. "I think a lack of volunteers is more heavily felt locally than it is nationally."

He questioned the wisdom of having two self-regulatory bodies for fundraising - the Fundraising Standards Board and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association - and asked if they provided value for money. "I am aware of their different remits, but I wonder whether there is complementarity there," he said.

"I'd like to be satisfied it's being done in the most cost-efficient way possible, because at the moment each of them is a charge on taxpayers and they will become a charge on charities."

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