NCVO calls on chancellor to kick start the SIB with £50m 16/04/09
NCVO is calling on chancellor Alistair Darling to kick-start the proposed Social Investment Bank (SIB) with a £50 million Government cash injection, to help the voluntary sector deliver essential frontline services during the recession.

The umbrella body says the chancellor has a golden opportunity to underline the Government’s commitment to the sector when he unveils his Budget next week, by making a significant contribution to get the bank up and running.

NCVO argue that the deepening recession means there is increasing demand for services provided by charities and voluntary groups, but at the same time many charities face increased pressure to access the funding they need.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of NCVO, said: “The Chancellor could throw a lifeline to the sector by showing its commitment to developing the Social Investment Bank.

"This would give social enterprises and charities much-needed access to capital to help develop their services. With the recession biting hard, the need for the Government to underline its support for the sector has never been greater.”

NCVO is also calling for the chancellor to announce additional measures to help ensure charities and voluntary groups can continue to provide essential frontline services during the economic downturn.

These include:

· The creation of an ‘opt-out’ Gift Aid system to increase voluntary sector income. This would allow charities to claim tax back on all donations, unless explicitly asked not to do so by donors.

· Additional resources for the voluntary sector through the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) scheme to simplify the transfer of assets, such as unused public buildings, to charities. These assets can be transformed into projects that empower local communities, such as providing accommodation for the homeless or activity centres for disadvantaged children and young people.

· A greater role for the voluntary sector to lead the ‘green’ revolution. Any new investment in sustainable industries should include charities and social enterprises, which have been at the cutting edge of developing solutions to tackling climate change.

The group’s call to action comes after Gordon Brown recently announced he wanted to boost the efforts of charities and voluntary organisations responding to the recession, during a conference held at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Ben Kernighan added: “As the recession begins to bite, the need for the Government to show its commitment to the work of the not-for-profit sector has never been greater.

"It will be the people who rely on vital services provided by the sector who will suffer if the Chancellor fails to announce measures to help charities meet the increase in demand for their work, resulting from the global credit crunch.”

As an employer of over 634,000 people and a provider of essential services to communities, the voluntary sector is vital to the UK’s economic health.

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