Wednesday, 27 January 2010

UK: charities under the Conservatives

Specifically, what about Conductive Education?

Come the summer the United Kingdom may have a Conservative ('Tory') Government. Much of the Conductive Education in the UK is implemented through the charitable sector, also known as the voluntary or third sector. What might a new Conservative Government be expecting of charities?

Conservative Party manifesto author says
Tories plan 'huge' role for sector
in service provision
Some voluntary organisations spend too much of their resources on campaigning and not enough on service provision, according to Oliver Letwin, the author of the Conservative Party's forthcoming election manifesto. Letwin, MP for West Dorset, told the NCVO's campaigning conference yesterday that a "vast and powerful" sector was necessary to deal with problems that the private sector was unwilling and the state unable to address. But he said he regretted that 'so much of the effort of some parties in the voluntary sector is devoted to campaigning. They are free to do it, but what I treasure about the sector isn't its campaigning role. Its special contribution is to do something to change things and solve problems.

He described the voluntary sector as 'one of the cornerstones' of what the Conservatives wanted to achieve and pledged that a Tory government would provide sustainable support to enable the sector to work with people the state had been unable to reach...  'You can't build capital or run a proper social enterprise on the basis of full cost recovery and micromanagement from government,' he said. 'You need to be able to make a reasonable profit and plough it back into expanding services.' All sector public service delivery should be paid for by results or with grants, he added.

He said the real question was not whether a Conservative government would turn its back on the sector but whether it would ask it to do too much, given its existing capacity. "The answer to that is 'Yes', which is why we are working out how to build the capacity not just of large but also of tiny organisations," he said. We need a huge market place of voluntary sector organisations and we need to find ways of replicating things, supporting best practice and increasing access to capital.

Good news or bad?

If you are in the UK, with concerns for the future of Conductive Education in that country, does this sound good news or bad to you? The answer will presumably depend in large part on how you regard Conductive Education's primary future social, as provision or catalyst.

If you are outside the UK then perhaps you need not care. Though do remember that the UK played a vanguard role in bringing about the international expansion of Conductive Education outside Hungary, beginning in the mid-eighties. Future British developments, if they amount to radical change, might still prove of significance elsewhere.


Jump, P. (2010) Charities should campaign less, says Oliver Letwin, Third Sector Online, 26 January

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