Tories ask big hitters to help develop policy

A group of key voluntary umbrella bodies has been called in by the Conservative Party to help it draft new policies for tackling Britain's main social problems.

A working group of the party's Social Justice Policy Group last week met the NCVO, Acevo and the Charities' Tax Reform Group, all of which put forward submissions on how the voluntary sector could improve social services.

The consultation is the party's first major dialogue with the sector since its Sixty Million Citizens report in 2003. It marks a renewed interest under David Cameron in putting social issues at the top of the agenda.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said he was delighted to "help shape" Conservative thinking on the sector, but added that there would be no quick fix.

"We will warn the Conservatives not to think that public service reform is about services on the cheap," he said. "We believe in partnership between the public, private and third sectors. Only with a vibrant third sector will the Conservatives be able to offer something fresh."

The Social Justice Policy Group has been commissioned by Cameron to develop policy in response to the Social Justice Challenge, one of his range of Challenges for Britain.

The umbrella groups' submissions will help inform the voluntary sector working group's interim report on the state of the voluntary sector, to be published in December. A second report, containing specific policy ideas, will be published next year.

Orlando Fraser, chair of the working group and prospective parliamentary candidate for North Devon, said: "In principle, our recommendations will, if accepted by Mr Cameron, be the basis for a Conservative government's programme to help the voluntary sector."

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