Since partnering with the Conservatives to form a coalition government in the aftermath of the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats have seen their poll ratings plummet, and Nick Clegg sought to put his party back onto the path to electoral success today, launching the Lib Dem manifesto in London.
Positively for the charity sector, there is a growing political consensus that more action needs to be taken to get young people engaged with social action at an early age. The Lib Dems join other parties in committing to promoting social action and volunteering at school, college and university, and this will help to develop the culture of giving that is vital for the future of charities in the UK.
There is also support for greater involvement of charities in providing public services, with the manifesto stressing the value of the role that the voluntary sector already plays in communities and public services. Clegg’s party promises to continue opening up public procurement to the voluntary sector, and there is a particular emphasis on getting charities and voluntary groups involved in health and social care. This is aided by a commitment to supporting social investment to help organisations deliver sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities.
As with the Conservative manifesto yesterday the Lib Dems seek to encourage citizens to engage in social action, but as of yet with little detail about how this would be enacted. Describing the government’s role as that of an enabler and facilitator is language that will be welcomed by the sector, and acknowledges that government has the potential to help get more people involved in supporting good causes.
Turning overseas, the Lib Dems join the other major parties in pledging to retain the commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas development. In addition, Clegg plans to create a new civil society partnership to build links between peoples in rich and poor countries. This would be boosted by training more emergency response volunteers and responding generously to humanitarian crises.
Commenting on the Liberal Democrat manifesto, CAF’s Chief Executive John Low said:
“We are delighted the Liberal Democrats have taken up our proposals to promote social action and volunteering in schools, college and university.
“There is a growing consensus among political parties – echoing the findings of our all-party Growing Giving Parliamentary inquiry – that we need a national crusade to encourage young people to get involved in voluntary action in order to harness their energy and enthusiasm, and build the long-term culture of giving which is what marks us out as one of the most generous countries on earth.
“The party’s support for social investment is also a growing area of agreement between the parties – we need to make the idea of investing for social as well as financial gains an everyday part of our financial services industry as it deals with the legacy of the economic crash.”
With the Liberal Democrats most likely route to government involving joining a coalition, it will be interesting to see which of these policies they plan on focusing on during any negotiations. Of course that’s still a few weeks away. In few minutes Nigel Farage will be launching UKIP’s manifesto, and we’ll update you on what that says about the charity sector shortly.