Third sector organisations would play a much bigger role in running prisons and other public services under a Conservative government, according to Francis Maude, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office.
Maude told delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester yesterday that the prison system was a "disgrace".
"As in so many other areas of social policy where neither the state nor the market has provided the solution, there has to be a much greater role for the voluntary sector and social enterprises," he said.
He thanked Nick Hurd, shadow minister for the third sector, for the work he had done to help the sector to expand "to meet the huge demands society will make on it over the years ahead".
"These will be tough years," added Maude. "The age of plenty in the public sector is emphatically over. This is the age of austerity. A new Conservative government will need to do things very differently. Quite simply, we will need to do more with less."