Charities will run state services under Tories, says Cameron

Conservative leader sets out his vision of a smaller state, complemented by a 'big society'

David Cameron
David Cameron

Third sector organisations with a track record of success would be funded by the state to expand successful social programmes under a Conservative government, according to David Cameron.

The Tory leader made the pledge last night during a lecture in London setting out the Conservative Party's vision of a smaller state, to be replaced by a "big society".

The expansion of the state had eroded social solidarity and responsibility and had "reached a point where it is now inhibiting, not advancing, the progressive aims of reducing poverty, fighting inequality and increasing general wellbeing", he said.

Cameron said the state needed to help create the big society by "galvanising, catalysing, prompting, encouraging and agitating for community engagement and social renewal".

"It must help families, individuals, charities and communities come together to solve problems," he said.

The Tories would identify and work with "the social entrepreneurs who have the capacity to run successful social programmes in communities with the greatest needs", according to Cameron.

"We will identify proven social programmes, franchise them to social entrepreneurs with a track record of success and fund them directly from existing state budgets to deliver public services," he said. "If we find the right people, a relatively small number can make a huge difference."

A spokeswoman for the Conservative Party said by "social entrepreneurs", Cameron had in mind all third sector organisations. "It is about removing the barriers to delivery of services by sector organisations in areas such as education and health," she said.

Whitehall also needed to become more sector-friendly, said Cameron. "We need people capable of engaging with social entrepreneurs and civic institutions who can agitate and encourage social action, and help people to build the type of sustainable organisations we need," he said.

"And if we are to break the culture of charities and social bodies being dependent on the state for handouts, we need to look at how government can use loans alongside grants to help make them more sustainable and effective."

In response to a question from Stephen Bubb, head of chief executives body Acevo, Cameron insisted his plans would not involve charities underwriting the cost of public services.

"He said the Tories expected the sector to be properly funded," Bubb told Third Sector, adding that he agreed with much of Cameron's message, which echoed Acevo's Replacing the State? policy document, published in 2003.


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