Local charities are being neglected, say Lib Dems

Voluntary sector organisations are being hampered in their efforts to work with communities by the Government's funding regime and "bizarre" reporting rules, according to the Liberal Democrats.

A new book, Communities Actually, published by the Local Government Association Liberal Democrats Group, says that excessive bureaucracy is restricting smaller charities in particular from helping local communities.

"Centralised funding regimes and bizarre reporting requirements have transformed the voluntary sector into two halves – the giant agencies delivering government targets and a struggling mass of local activity, constantly forced to prove their own innovation, hopelessly spending their dwindling resources on collecting irrelevant statistics for distant funders," the book says.

"It is harder for them to work alongside communities and, when the voluntary sector starts to get in the way of communities taking power for themselves, then we need new methods of sustainable funding – and new ideas about spreading power – so that they do what they do best."

The book adds that burdensome government regulations are causing smaller voluntary sector organisations to go out of business.

"Microcharities are disappearing, forced out by the hoops and bureaucracies of centralised lottery programmes," it says.

It adds that the voluntary sector is dominated by a "handful of massive agencies" that hoover up most of the available funding to deliver government targets.

"The rest of the sector exists on a hand-to-mouth diet of grants, desperately trying to prove that what they are doing is somehow innovative, and whose prime purpose is often to keep their professional team in salaries," the book says.

Councillor Richard Kemp, Liberal Democrat leader at the LGA, said that, although political parties profess to be localist, in practice they have a tendency to hold too much power in Whitehall.

He added: "Regrettably, not enough politicians are ‘localist' when it comes to changing warm words into hard actions."

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