Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on charities, has accused Conservative leader David Cameron of wanting to get the third sector to underwrite the costs of delivering public services.
In the keynote speech at an NCVO conference in London yesterday, Willott attacked the Conservative Party's ‘small state, big society' policy and said it was "a thinly-veiled part of a traditional Tory tax-cutting agenda" .
"The Conservatives want the UK to develop a low tax, US-style philanthropic culture overnight," said Willott. "This is fanciful and decidedly dangerous."
Willott said the charity sector should play a greater role in public service provision. "But this should be driven by local and community innovators working in the sector, not by Tory ministers based in Whitehall," she said.
"This type of innovation must be allowed to develop gradually. This means safeguarding grant funding and creating a level playing field so that charities can properly compete for, and win, contracts against their private sector counterparts."
No one from the Conservative Party was available to comment.