Cheryl Gillan has delivered a speech on ‘Labour’s selfish society’ today. Read it here. It won advance coverage in the Mail on Sunday and I guess that any further coverage Mrs Gillan receives will be connected with the speech’s attack on Labour. The most interesting idea comes at the end of the speech when the Shadow Welsh Secretary proposes ‘Volunteering Vouchers’:
"As the interim report from Iain Duncan Smith’s Social Justice Policy
Group demonstrated last month, one of the trickiest challenges for us
is to find ways of increasing state funding of charities and other
independent organisations, without at the same time increasing the
power of the state and diminishing the independence of the
organisations we are funding. A possible way of doing this is to ensure
that some of the money the state spends on the voluntary sector is
allocated by citizens themselves, rather than by government officials
with all sorts of strings attached.
"Therefore, on behalf of David Cameron and the Shadow Cabinet, I am
today submitting a policy proposal to Iain Duncan Smith and the Social
Justice Policy Group. We would like Iain and his colleagues to
investigate the idea of Volunteering Vouchers – taxpayers money which
you can "earn" for the charity of your choice by volunteering for it.
This would not represent an increase in spending, but a reallocation of
existing funding. Rather than the state controlling this money, we
believe that individuals and communities could be in charge of it."
I hope it’s an idea that the SJPG will consider very seriously. Just because charities need taxpayers’ money to flourish, there’s no need for that money to be directed by risk-averse and politicised bureaucrats. As much state funding of charities should be voucherised as possible.
See this definition of stakeholder-directed funding for more.