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Voluntary Organisations (Ministerial Visits)

Volume 33: debated on Tuesday 30 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many visits were made by Ministers in his Department to voluntary organisations in 1982.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the number of such visits that he has made. It is a pleasure to see him involved with so many organisations. I pass on to him the great welcome for the opportunities for volunteering scheme. Will this programme be expanded?

I return the compliment by saying that it is a pleasure to see my hon. Friend at many of these functions. He is right to say that the opportunities for volunteering scheme have been warmly welcomed and that it has been a great success. I am pleased to confirm that we shall make additional resources available to continue the scheme at about the same level next year.

Leaving aside the statements of mutual admiration, did the Minister discuss with the voluntary organisations the effect of the doubling of VAT on their activities? Is he aware that the Spastics Society last year paid £350,000 in VAT and that the Royal National Institute for the Deaf paid £100,000? What representations is he making to the Treasury to end that burden?

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that a meeting on this subject will be held tomorrow and that this is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that hon. Members will bear in mind the substantial improvements introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend to increase the flow of money to voluntary organisations—for example, through covenants. In fact, many voluntary organisations regard the support from this Government as the most helpful that they have received for a long time.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his interest in the voluntary organisations. Has he given any directions to local authority social services committees to pump prime local voluntary organisations?

I am not in a position to instruct them to do so, but we hope to issue shortly the new circular on joint finance entitled "Care in the Community". I assure my hon. Friend that that circular will lay heavy emphasis on the need to work with and through the voluntary organisations.