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Public Disorder (Financial Cost)

Volume 532: debated on Wednesday 7 September 2011

7. What estimate he has made of the financial cost to the voluntary and community sector organisations of recent public disorder in England. (69987)

Since the riots, we have remained in close contact with our strategic partners, who are feeding in information about the impact of the riots on community groups. I have a meeting next week with community groups and sector representatives to discuss that impact and the way forward.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. At the height of the disturbances that hit Leicester, the Age Concern ambulance bus was torched. Despite what the Prime Minister indicated to me in his statement of 11 August, Age Concern is not eligible for the compensation schemes. Will the Minister look urgently at setting up a compensation scheme for charities so that Age Concern in my constituency can replace its ambulance bus as quickly as possible?

I was as shocked as anyone by the torching of the Age Concern ambulance. My understanding is that under these circumstances, damages are recoverable from the high street support scheme. I have been informed that officials have sent that information through. I would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and representatives of Age Concern if there are continued problems with this issue.

Does my hon. Friend agree that voluntary organisations are the backbone of our local communities and that any damage to their property or organisation diminishes their opportunity to assist the individuals and groups that are most in need?

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend, which is why I am meeting many sector representatives and community groups next week to discuss the impact and the way forward. He knows as well as I do that we are doing a huge amount to support community organisations through deregulation and by making it easier for them to access finance.

How much money does the Minister think he will have to put into the national citizen service to prevent future riots? How will he ensure that that is not done at the cost of general voluntary and community services that support young people, especially given that they are incurring additional costs in helping communities to rebuild after the riots and are subject to Government cuts?

We are hugely enthusiastic about the national citizen service; much more, apparently, than the Opposition Front Bench. The experience from this summer is that it has been a fantastic experience for young people, connecting them with a chance to do something really positive in their communities. We are piloting it, but have to proceed cautiously because a lot of taxpayers’ money is involved. As the Prime Minister has made quite clear, we are keen to expand it as fast as we can.