Social enterprise, social finance and finding ways to encourage banks to support the voluntary sector will be the themes of the next stage of Labour’s civil society policy review, according to the shadow civil society minister Roberta Blackman-Woods.
Speaking at a meeting with a small group of charity representatives at the party’s conference in Liverpool, organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Blackman-Woods said there was growing anger about the government’s big society agenda because spending cuts were hitting charities hard.
But the party could not just keep "harping on" about the lack of funding, she said:"We need to talk about what sort of social finance we need to see.
"The next stage of our policy review will concentrate on social finance and looking at what you need to support social enterprises and mutuals. We will also be asking how you get the banks on board with this activity."
Blackman-Woods said she thought there should be national minimum standards for commissioning so that the voluntary sector was always given a fair chance at bidding for contracts to deliver services.
She said she was concerned that provisions in the Localism Bill to set up a ‘community right to challenge’ to provide local services could lead to the domination of the tendering process by private sector firms to the exclusion of the voluntary sector.
Blackman-Woods said she was keen to hear from charities about what they thought Labour’s priorities for voluntary sector policy should be.