The government is planning to allow voluntary sector groups to use its central buying power to purchase goods and services at reduced cost, according to Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.
In an interview with Third Sector, Hurd said the Cabinet Office had held talks with voluntary sector umbrella bodies about setting up a mutual or cooperative that would buy goods and services for the sector such as stationery, energy and professional services, using the government's central buying office.
"We have seriously got our act together with buying and have saved a lot of money," he said. "I would like the sector to be able to benefit from that buying power and aggregate their demand to government."
"I'm talking about things you can buy in bulk that can be standardised. That can range from energy to fleet to professional services or traditional office stationery. There's actually quite a broad menu of things that increasingly the government is buying in bulk, and the savings are massive."
Hurd said the talks were at an early stage, but umbrella bodies were keen on the idea. If a mutual or cooperative were set up, he said, it could buy resources for a range of charities using the central government system.