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Voluntary and Community Sector

Volume 542: debated on Wednesday 21 March 2012

5. What steps he is taking to ensure that the community and voluntary sector is considered in policy formulation in all Departments. (100941)

Our agenda is to give community groups and other voluntary sector organisations a much wider role in fulfilling the demands and needs of the public than they have had in the past. That is why, in considering each of our public service reforms, we have paid particular attention to the question of how the voluntary and community sector can work through them and help them.

Research by the NCVO has shown that Government Departments plan to cut a further £444 million of funding from the voluntary and community sector. Does the Minister agree that that is evidence of the complete disregard of his own Government for that sector?

Absolutely not. The hon. Lady should look carefully at what we have done in respect of funding of advice services, to which the Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd), referred a moment or two ago. In 2010-11, the funding stood at rather less than £200 million, but in 2011-12 it went up and it has almost maintained the 2011-12 levels—still above those of 2010-11—for 2012-13. The Government are investing in the voluntary and community sector, not disinvesting in it.

Some examples of bureaucracy are being faced by many in the community and voluntary sectors. What are the Government doing to try to ensure that those sectors face no undue levels of bureaucracy in delivering their services?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right—there are major bureaucratic obstacles and regulatory hurdles. My noble Friend Lord Hodgson has been looking specifically at those, and my team and I have been looking at them as part of the red tape challenge. We are going through every single regulation that affects the voluntary sector, the community sector and social enterprises to see what we can do to ameliorate or remove those obstacles, because we are determined to build the big society.