Etherington calls for “honest discussion” over sector 13/11/09
NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington has called on politicians from all sides for an “honest discussion” over the future role of the voluntary sector.

Speaking at NCVO’s Autumn Conference in Manchester, Etherington said he expected to have an open and frank discussion with all political parties about how they see the sector’s involvement in creating the good society in the run-up to the election.

Etherington said: “It is very clear to me that politicians of all sides understand and respect the contribution we make to the lives of people and communities. There is also a clear consensus that we can and should be enabled to take on a greater role in some spheres. What we need now is an honest discussion about how we achieve that.”

In a speech this week, David Cameron set out his vision for a “big society” including a far greater role for voluntary groups.

He said the era of “big government” was over as it discouraged personal responsibility.

He posed “big society” as the alternative in which Government’s role would be “galvanising” and “agitating” “families, individuals, charities and communities” to come together and solve problems.

Commenting on Cameron’s speech, Etherington called for a dialogue on how these aspirations might be realised.

Etherington spoke to around 200 of the organisation’s 7,500 member charities at the NCVO conference today and set out the organisation’s vision of a “good society” including calling for commitments from banks to help tackle social exclusion, an increase in local action through volunteering as well as more effort from business in allowing staff paid leave to carry out voluntary work.

He also encouraged voluntary organisations to contribute their thoughts on what made a good society and what roles the voluntary sector and the state should play.

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