§ Lord Desai
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What steps the Home Office is taking to support the voluntary sector.
§ Baroness Blatch:
Work carried out by the Home Office in support of the voluntary sector is set out each year in the Home Office Annual report (Home Office Annual Report 1995, Cm 2802), a copy of which has been placed in the Library, I have, however, highlighted the following steps from among the many ways the Home Office acts to support the voluntary sector:
- (a) The Home Office makes grants to a wide variety of voluntary organisations which assist it to achieve a number of departmental objectives. In 1994/95 the Home Office awarded nearly £69 million to voluntary organisations. The Voluntary Services Unit located in the Home Office acts as a channel of communications between government and the voluntary sector.
- (b) A ministerial group on Volunteering and the Voluntary Sector, representing 15 government departments, encourages a co-ordinated approach towards the voluntary sector by different government departments. I chair the group.
- (c) The Make a Difference initiative was launched by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in March 1994. It advocates an integrated approach to increasing individual involvement in the community and invites those in the private, public and voluntary sectors to work together to develop effective local action. A strategy for volunteering has been published, with 81 recommendations, many of which are being taken forward. The Government have made a provision of an additional £6 million over each of the next three years to fund this particular initiative. Further, in response to the Make a Difference team's report, the Home Office established the Volunteering Partnership to advise government on the promotion of volunteering.
- (d) Important changes have been made to the framework of charity law. The Charities Acts of 1992 and 1993 removed unnecessary functions of the Charity Commission, strengthened the commission's powers in other respects and introduced a new, comprehensive legal framework for charity accounts and reports.