Focus: Policy and Politics - NCVO shifts focus from lottery to BBC

Nathalie Thomas

The umbrella body promises scrutiny of service delivery issues.

Public service delivery and the Compact will dominate voluntary sector policy in the second year of Labour's third term, according to the NCVO.

Twelve months after it launched its General Election manifesto, the umbrella body is expecting to move away from its focus on the Lottery and Charities Bills to address other unresolved policies, including those surrounding the BBC charter.

"In relation to voluntary sector policy, the Charities Bill and the Lottery Bill have dominated NCVO thoughts since the election, and I think those issues will get resolved sooner rather than later," said Pete Moorey, parliamentary officer at the NCVO.

Moorey said progress had been made on several of the policies in Independence, Diversity, Voice, published last February, but there was more to be done on the sector's role in statutory services, local government and public service broadcasting. "Those issues will become more predominant for the sector," he said.

Over the next few months, the NCVO will be keeping a watchful eye on the Government as it reveals its hand on implementing the 2002 cross cutting review.

"It will be interesting to see how the Government starts to work on genuine implementation of the review and how that relates to the public services proposals we had in the manifesto," Moorey said.

Last summer's National Audit Office report, Working with the Third Sector, and the subsequent public accounts committee hearing were a step in the right direction, he added, but the NCVO remains cautious.

"Although the Government is meeting its own commitments in relation to looking at the greater opportunities for the sector in public service delivery, when it comes to ensuring it's on a level playing field, we are still looking for genuine implementation," he said.

The forthcoming BBC white paper will mark another policy benchmark over the coming year, Moorey added. The NCVO opposes BBC regulation by Ofcom, stating that any independent regulatory process should remain accountable to Parliament and not to the Government, as Ofcom would be.

The past 12 months have seen movement on several other proposals, most notably unclaimed assets. Last year, the NCVO called for all unclaimed assets to be transferred to charities by law - a policy that has, in part, been satisfied by Gordon Brown's promises in the pre-budget report.

The Chancellor guaranteed that money languishing in dormant bank accounts would be released for youth services, financial education and exclusion in deprived communities.

In the same report, the Government announced £100m for youth volunteering, a proposal similar to the NCVO's recommended Invest to Give scheme to promote volunteering, particularly among young people.

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