We are investing in the national citizen service, which will be very powerful in connecting young people with their own power to make a contribution to the community. In addition, we will invest £40 million over the next two years to support volunteering infrastructure and social action.
I thank the Minister. Grow, the organisation behind Wiltshire’s volunteer centre in Chippenham, is keen to extend the range of support it provides in matching young people with volunteering opportunities as part of Wiltshire council’s volunteer strategy and action plan. Will the new local infrastructure fund be able to support such initiatives, be they in Wiltshire or elsewhere?
I was in Devizes constituency in Wiltshire on Friday, and I recognise that Wiltshire council represents best practice in many ways in supporting local voluntary organisations and local infrastructure. I am delighted about the local infrastructure fund, because it will help existing infrastructure assets become even more efficient and effective in supporting front-line voluntary organisations and encouraging local people to get involved.
We all support efforts to encourage volunteering, but does the Minister share our concern that under proposals in the Protection of Freedoms Bill on the vetting and barring scheme individuals who are barred from working with children will be able to volunteer in schools, and without the school’s knowledge?
The Bill contains very important reforms to vetting and barring, and critically to the Criminal Records Bureau process, which many Members will know from their constituencies is a source of considerable frustration for people who are trying to volunteer. I agree with the reforms that will make that process simpler, more effective and more portable.