The Labour Party is asking the voluntary sector what the priorities of the Charity Commission should be, and how to make procurement work better for charities, as part of a policy consultation before the next general election.
The consultation paper was launched yesterday on the Your Britain website, Labour’s online policy hub.
Sector representatives are asked to respond to the consultation by email, with no deadline given.
The consultation has seven sections: alongside the commission and procurement, there are campaigning, volunteering, talent and people in the sector, supporting charities to grow and the Big Lottery Fund.
Lisa Nandy, the shadow minister for civil society, announced the consultation at the start of May, although at the time she said it would be launched the following week. "We want to know what works and what doesn’t," she said at the time. "We want to know what your hopes and dreams are."
The consultation paper underlines Labour’s commitment to repealing the lobbying act. It says: "We believe that campaigning is part of healthy democracy and in government we established the compact to uphold charities’ right to campaign."
The paper asks how charities that deliver public contracts can maintain their freedom to speak out, poses questions about the effectiveness of the National Citizen Service and wonders how the sector’s workforce can be made more representative of beneficiaries and the public.
It says: "Too often the ‘big society’ has simply meant that services are withdrawn, leaving the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces." It asks what can be done to resolve this.
The consultation says that Labour is "exploring how we might encourage greater lending to deprived areas under provisions modelled on the Community Reinvestment Act in the USA".
According to Your Britain, the consultation will include a number of events and meetings with charities led by Nandy and Michael Dugher, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office.