The sector's income from the public sector will continue to grow even as public spending is squeezed, according to Nick Hurd, shadow minister for the third sector.
Hurd was speaking last Thursday during an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall called by Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, on assisting communities and third sector organisations through the recession.
Hurd said the sector's statutory funding would continue to grow because "the sector's share of the cake will grow, even if the cake shrinks". But he said more needed to be done to boost income from philanthropy and social investment.
Hurd also repeated his "profound belief in the value of the voluntary sector's advocacy role". Hurd was challenged by Tom Levitt, chair of the all-party group on the voluntary sector, to pledge his support for charities' campaigning role given the recent comments by Oliver Letwin, the author of the Conservatives' forthcoming election manifesto, regretting that some charities spend so much of their efforts on campaigning.
"I am a strong believer in the advocacy role of charities and the sector," said Hurd. "We propose no change to the regulation in that context."
Smith welcomed Hurd's assurances on campaigning but questioned whether what he meant by advocacy was the same thing as campaigning. "We would all expect third sector organisations to be advocates for their cause, but how far they are able to campaign is an important issue," she said. "I hope that he does not get into too much trouble with the rest of the Conservative front-bench team after the comments that he has made today."
She also said it was impossible to guarantee that the Government would never again breach the Compact. Responding to questions about the Office of the Third Sector's breach of the agreement when it cancelled the Campaigning Research Programme at short notice last autumn, Smith said it was important that the Compact was embedded throughout the Government.
"That does not mean that there will never be another breach of the Compact," she said. "It means that the Government must understand the value of the Compact, not just to the organisation concerned, but to the Government itself."