Third sector has been 'kicked into the long grass', say Liberal Democrats

Jenny Willott, the party's charity spokeswoman, says the Chancellor has given the voluntary sector nothing but vague assurances

The pre-Budget report has "kicked the third sector well and truly into the long grass", according to Jenny Willott, charities spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats.

"Charities are looking for solid commitments and deadlines from the Government about future action to support the sector," she said. "But all we have been given are vague assurances and platitudes."

Willott said the announcement of a social investment wholesale bank was good news, but added that there was no indication of when it might start operating or how it would be funded in the long term.

"There is no mention of setting up integrated charity giving accounts alongside normal bank accounts, streamlining the multitude of public funding sources for charities or creating a level playing field for the third sector to effectively compete with private companies for public sector contracts," she said.

"This all sounds like a government that has run out of ideas for charities and is parking the sector until after the election."

Nick Hurd, the shadow charities minister, said: "We welcome this relatively small pot of money for the social investment bank and hope the scheme progresses.

"However, we do regret that the Government appears to be showing relatively little initiative on several issues preoccupying the voluntary sector at a time when voluntary organisations are under more pressure than ever to deliver services and help those in need."

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