Saturday, March 10, 2007

Etherington tells sector to secure its own future

The chief executive of NCVO has told the third sector it must secure its own future, while calling on the government to put the political structures in place to safeguard its place in civil society.
Addressing delegates at the NCVO annual conference, Stuart Etherington said the third sector needed both its own cabinet-level minister, a dedicated department in Whitehall and a select committee offering insight and scrutiny, if the sector was to remain a strong force in policy development.

Now in what he called a “post-Deakin” society, Etherington said charities must fight hard to weather the coming economic and political storms.

“We are highly respected by policy makers and have made a strong impact,” he said. “We are consulted widely by all political parties – they recognise the real difference that we make. As we move from the achievements of the last 10 years into a period of political manoeuvring and economic pressure, I believe our future prospects are not necessarily as certain as they may at first seem.”

Etherington told delegates that they must not let the third sector now be “cast aside at the whim of government”.

“Now more than ever we need to stand up and be counted,” he said. “We are not an additional extra. With a change in Prime Minister we can take nothing for granted, especially when there is not comfort to be gained from the difficult times ahead.”

Etherington set out a list of priorities for Gordon Brown’s anticipated first 100 days as Prime Minister, including ensuring that effective regulation delivers genuine public benefit, and the setting up of a third sector skills council to improve training for employment in the charity world. “The sector is now a very significant employer,” he said. “This growth has led to the professionalisation of the sector and yet we don’t have a dedicated skills council.”

The chief executive told NCVO members that they could not allow their sector to be forgotten, and that together they could build a strong and stable future under any government.
“A world without our dedication is unthinkable,” he concluded. “Let us be clear about what we want to achieve and let nobody steer us off course.”

Charity Times Newsalert 21st February 2007


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