More devolution will help ensure smaller charities have a louder voice in government and prevent the “Uberisation” of the sector, according to the Conservative MP Danny Kruger.
The MP for for Devizes was speaking during a webinar hosted by the law firm Bates Wells about the recommendations in his recently published report, which was about the sector’s role in the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The wide-ranging review, published last month, made 20 suggestions, including that the government should make £500m from the National Fund charity available as emergency funds to support the voluntary sector and create a longer-term £2bn endowment to support disadvantaged communities.
In the webinar, Kruger was asked about the role of international development charities, which were missing from the review, and larger charities more generally.
Kruger said: “We have a problem in government as we’re only good at talking to big charities. We need a system where smaller ones get a piece of the action(...) and the answer to that is more devolution.”
Kruger, who founded two charities before entering parliament last year, said larger charities had a big role to play in supporting local infrastructure in a way that did not push the smaller organisations out, and lead to the “Uberisation” of the sector.
“There are plenty of good examples of big and small charities working together, and I’d like to see more of that working in partnership,” he said.
He conceded that many of his recommendations “will go nowhere at all”, but said he hoped many would be adopted, and that the relevant ministers would respond in their own way in due course.
Asked about how government commissioning could be reconceived, and in particular how state aid might be able to support charities, Kruger said the government had been working on social value and on a new framework that built on the best practices found in local government.
“There’s a huge appetite for improvement,” he said. “An obsessive focus on price and risk aversion means we often don't procure in the public interest, this is widely appreciated in government.
“In my view we need a regime that takes on considerations other than price – will it save money and deliver public good, rather than will it save money in my little corner of the public sector.”
Kruger said he thought Brexit would allow the government to deliver a new state aid regime.
He said it was in the interest of both sides to do a deal on a new trade agreement, and was hopeful that would be the case, but said he shared the Prime Minister’s view that the UK would be fine without one.
Asked to share his thoughts on the US election, Kruger said: “I don't know who is going to win but I will support whoever does.”