Greg Clark: charities must begin to solve social problems

Former shadow charities minister tells NCVO conference service delivery must become 'more effective'

The sector can help government do more with less by helping to solve social problems instead of dealing with their symptoms, according to former shadow third sector minister Greg Clark.

Clark, who is now the Conservative spokesman on energy and climate change, told the NCVO's annual conference yesterday that the voluntary sector should not subsidise the public sector.

But he said the state of public finances was such that services would have to become more efficient and effective, and begin to solve social problems instead of always dealing with the symptoms.

He said he was not opposed to sticking-plaster solutions "if the alternative is bleeding to death". But he criticised the Government for failing to secure a "steady, long-term supply of plasters".

He said a Tory government would transfer power from the state to third sector organisations, giving them more control over how outcomes were achieved and a "right to supply" public services where they could demonstrate effectiveness.

He also reiterated the Tories' pledge to allow organisations to reap a "fair share" of resulting savings to the public purse, describing full cost recovery as a "gilded cage" that the private sector would never stand for.

He also insisted that charities should feel free to campaign and "make life uncomfortable for government".

At the NCVO's campaigning conference last month, Oliver Letwin, the author of the Conservatives' forthcoming election manifesto, said he regretted that "so much of the effort of some parties in the voluntary sector is devoted to campaigning"

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