Skip to main content

Local Community Groups

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 21 October 2010

16. What steps he is taking to reduce the regulatory requirements his Department places on local community groups. (18475)

I am determined to make it easier for local community groups to thrive. There are three ways in which we can help. First, there is a determination across Government to remove unnecessary burdens. Lord Young of Graffham is reducing the burden of health and safety legislation, while Lord Hodgson is tasked with reducing burdens on voluntary groups and will report in 2011. Secondly, as I said earlier, I have established a team in my Department to help local communities directly to get rid of barriers that stand in their way. Thirdly, I look to local government to avoid being over-prescriptive when issuing contracts to voluntary organisations.

My constituency contains many dedicated volunteers, but many others are put off by the intrusive system of multiple Criminal Records Bureau checks. One deputy head, who had been checked for his school, was unable to accompany his own students in a cub activity unless he obtained another CRB check from the scouting organisation. While I share the House’s commitment to child protection, as deputy chairman of the all-party parliamentary scout group I also feel deeply frustrated by bureaucratic barriers of that sort. What steps is the Department taking to ensure that we support volunteerism rather than stifle it?

That is a brilliant question, and my hon. Friend has a fantastic track record of social action.

Although scouting is more popular than ever before and more teenagers are joining the movement than ever before, the waiting list is at a record level because there are not enough volunteers to catch up with it. CRB checks are an important aspect of that, and the Home Office is reviewing the vetting and barring arrangements. In response to a suggestion made by a member of the public through the “spending challenge” process, we will make it possible for relevant organisations to share CRB checks.