Preliminary findings from the state of the sector panel survey for 2004-05 indicate that 57 per cent. of all public funding was awarded on the basis of full cost recovery, and 53 per cent. for three years or more. We recognise that we need to make further progress, so the pre-Budget report announced that a norm for the spending review would be three-year funding, and training for commissioners and standard contracts will further promote full cost recovery. Overall, central Government funding for the voluntary sector has increased by 96 per cent. in real terms since 1997.
Why is it then that seven out of 10 financial directors do not believe that they will achieve full cost recovery this year?
We have made progress on the issue, but we have further to go, as I said in my answer. If I may so, the difference between the Opposition and the Government is that they talk about it, but we have a plan to make it happen.
The Minister knows how important the issue is for voluntary organisations. He will know that in 2002, the Treasury recommended certainty for three-year funding, and the Chancellor has recently made a statement. Last year, however, the National Audit Office said that little progress had been made, so will the Minister come to the Dispatch Box and tell the House what guarantee there is that voluntary organisations will have some certainty?
I know that the hon. Gentleman speaks up for voluntary organisations in his constituency, but his party does not like targets. We think that the target is right, which is why the Chancellor’s announcement in the pre-Budget report last week is important. My right hon. Friend said that the norm for the spending review is three-year funding, and I might add that such funding was not even dreamt of when the previous Government were in office. The Government introduced three-year funding for central Government, and it is soon to be introduced for local government and for the voluntary sector as well.