Labour's plans for charity 'mini-manifesto' welcomed

Sector umbrella groups have welcomed the appointment of former Home Secretary David Blunkett to oversee the development of voluntary sector policy for the Labour Party's next manifesto.

Blunkett is one of three former cabinet ministers and eleven other Labour MPs appointed over the weekend to draw up ‘mini-manifestoes’ ahead of a possible early election campaign next year.

NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington described Blunkett’s appointment as “very good news for the sector”. He said: “David has a wealth of experience of the issues facing charities, voluntary and community groups and is ideally placed to develop the Labour Party’s future thinking in this area.”

An NCVO spokesman said that Blunkett’s experience as Home Secretary would be particularly relevant, because sector policy was, at that time, the responsibility of the Home Office. He said: “Blunkett certainly fought the sector’s corner in the Home Office and played a key role in getting us the Charities Bill. He also took an interest in the sector’s role in employment services when he was at the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb also welcomed Blunkett’s appointment. “The appointment of such a high profile political figure gives weight to Brown’s promises to engage communities and the campaigning nature of third sector organisations,” he said

He added that as Home Secretary Blunkett had understood the funding and contracting problems facing the sector. “I am confident that he will encourage the Government to make progress on these issues,” Bubb said.

Chief executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, Jonathan Bland, said Blunkett had been a supporter of social enterprise for “quite a while”, and had attended the launch of community interest companies two years ago. He said: “It is good to have someone who is a capable and seasoned operator to develop policy that puts social enterprise at the heart of economic policy going forward.”

The overall manifesto will be overseen by former minister for the third sector Ed Miliband, who was promoted last week to Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Hilary Armstrong, who previously occupied the role, will be in charge of developing Labour’s mini-manifesto on children.

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