Charity chiefs will meet Tories to discuss public service reforms

Shadow chancellor George Osborne among those planning talks with Acevo

Sector leaders are to meet top-level Tories to discuss major reforms to public services.

Chief executives body Acevo sent a letter signed by more than 250 voluntary sector leaders to Chancellor Alistair Darling in November calling for a meeting to discuss public service reforms. The letter argued that services could be improved while easing the pressure on the public purse.

But after receiving no reply from the Chancellor, Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, raised the matter with Oliver Letwin, chair of the Conservatives' policy review, who wrote back suggesting a meeting.

This would involve Letwin as well as George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, Francis Maude, shadow cabinet secretary, Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and Nick Hurd, shadow third sector minister. Sector representatives would be from Acevo and umbrella bodies the NCVO, Navca and the Social Enterprise Coalition

In the letter to Bubb, Letwin said he and his colleagues would welcome a summit on public service reforms, "which we regard as central to the delivery of more for less in public services and, hence, as a national priority over coming years".

"I hope that I need hardly add that we also believe that the opportunity to apply the principle of payment by results in a wide range of public service delivery through competitive tenders offers the prospect of major improvements in public services and, at the same time, huge prospects for third sector organisations to deliver those improvements," it said.

Bubb said Acevo would be canvassing opinion from its members over what should top the agenda for the summit, expected to be arranged over the next few weeks.

He said Acevo would be pushing for a significant increase in the role of third sector organisations in public service delivery.

"The one thing we will be stressing is that it is not about services on the cheap," he said. "Against a background of cuts they might think the voluntary sector can do it more cheaply, but we expect to carry on providing services with full cost recovery properly paid."

 

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