Government to cut red tape for the voluntary sector

31 08 2010

On 17 August the Government published measures to reduce bureaucratic burdens on the voluntary sector through a ‘red-tape taskforce’ which will free up resources and time for voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises. Cutting red-tape for the voluntary sector is a central component to mobilise the ‘Big Society’ – the Government’s flagship policy idea to help transfer power and responsibility from central government to local communities.  The taskforce will be led by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts and run jointly between the Office for Civil Society and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, has said ‘this is a tough time for small civil society organisations and we want to make life easier for them. So I have asked for specific ideas on how we can thin the thicket of bureaucracy and regulation that too often gets in the way. I see it very simply. Every pound or hour we can save a small voluntary organisation is a pound or hour that could be better spent.’

Yet some have still raised concerns over the representation and consultation of small charities and trusts in this scheme, ‘I do hope that in order to gain absolute coverage of all trusts and charities, there will be representation or consultation with smaller organisations. They are affected in varying ways that are different to multi-million charities’, states one commentator in thirdsector.co.uk.

The taskforce set to flush out burdens on the voluntary sector will have a remit to consider changes to legislation or processes that are needed and a wide range of other recommendations about how red-tape should be reduced, including in areas such as employment law and contractual arrangements when civil society organisations provide public services and responsibilities of trustees and directors.

In addition to making its own recommendations, the taskforce will also work with other initiatives including HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs review of bureaucracy associated with Gift Aid and Home Office work on the criminal records and vetting barring regime.

Sara Lofberg

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