When the Conservatives came to Kent yesterday, KCC Leader Paul Carter and I drove over to Gillingham to the Sunlight Centre to see the launch by Greg Clark MP and Conservative Leader David Cameron of a new Green Paper, “Voluntary Action in the 21st Century”.
The consultation paper, which was produced in consultation with a range of social enterprises, voluntary groups and charities, seks to expand the role of charities; make it easier for people to volunteer, and to allow the voluntary sector to expand its capacity. By reducing bureaucracy and cutting down on the mountain of paperwork through which such organisations have to wade, freeing up the sector to grow will create the extra resources necessary to cope with the rising demand for care and support in the years to come.
Under a Conservative government, employees will be allowed – indeed encouraged – to engage in voluntary work. It will also look to maintain and grow voluntary sector funding through grants, rather than the restrictive and bureacratic service level agreements so favoured by Labour which tie organisations up in red tape and box ticking.
Judging by the reaction of a crowded hall at the excellent Sunlight Centre, the Conservatives are hitting the right notes. Let’s hope they get into power sooner rather than later, because the clock is ticking and Labour funding is drying up week by week.