Government should introduce incentives to encourage more local philanthropy and corporate social responsibility that would build sustainable sources of grant funding, according to local umbrella body Navca.
The organisation's pre-general election manifesto, Strong Independent Roots: supporting local voluntary action, was launched on Monday at a parliamentary reception hosted by Tom Levitt, chair of the All-Party Group on the Community and Voluntary Sector.
It calls for five policy pledges from the next government:
- Committing all local public bodies to fund local infrastructure so it can support communities in influencing public decision-making.
- Strengthening local trusteeship to raise the standard of local voluntary action.
- Introducing incentives to encourage more local philanthropy and corporate social responsibility to build local endowments that will provide sustainable grants to support voluntary action.
- Requiring public bodies to embed social objectives in procurement processes that help develop local voluntary services.
- Focusing resources on areas where voluntary sector infrastructure is weakest or non-existent and using their resources to lever in local match funding.
The manifesto also urges local councils and primary care trusts to use their grants to support voluntary organisations that strengthen communities and overcome poverty and disadvantage.
Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, said it was vital that during the general election and the comprehensive spending review that is likely to come after it, "the ground the local third sector has made in recent years is not lost".
He warned that taking £1 out of volunteer recruitment would translate into a £19 loss to local services.
Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, said the Government was already making "real progress" in many of the areas cited by Navca, such as the Grassroots Grants scheme, which includes £50m of government match funding.
Nick Hurd, the shadow minister for the third sector, described the Navca manifesto as "very timely" and a "sharp reminder of the importance of a good CVS".
He said the crisis in the public finances presented challenges for both the state and the sector. "The challenge for the sector will be to step forward and make case for investment because you are often doing stuff that works," he said.