Tory policies mask cuts agenda, claims Blears

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has claimed that the Tories' third sector policies are a ploy to cut funding for local government, the NHS and schools.

Speaking at a Labour campaign dinner in Putney, south-west London on 11 June, Blears said Conservative leader David Cameron was not a "convinced localist" who was trying to win power in order to devolve it.

"No, he's engaged in an enormous con trick," she said. "His enthusiasm for localism, for the third sector, for volunteering must be seen in the context of his political philosophy, which is right-wing conservatism.

"A smaller state. Reduced public expenditure. Tax cuts for the rich. And real cash cuts to local government, the NHS, the police, schools and the transport system. And the role of voluntary activity in this situation is not as a partner to a progressive central government, but a safety net for the most vulnerable."

Blears said philanthropy and voluntarism should be encouraged, but that it should never be viewed as a way of getting public services "on the cheap".

Meanwhile, social enterprises that want to employ homeless people have been awarded £132,500 by the Communities and Local Government department.

The winners in the department's Spark competition were:

  • Brent Homeless User Group in London, which won £10,000 to provide training and employment for the homeless
  • Tower Hamlets-based Bikeworks, which won £75,000 to start and develop the East London Bicycle Recycling Project
  • The Salvation Army, which was given £47,500 to set up a social enterprise to train and employ the homeless.


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