ACEVO CEO Sir Stephen Bubb: Foodbanks just one instance of the huge debt that politicians owe charities

In a keynote speech to charity chief executives in Parliament, Sir Stephen Bubb will today call for politicians of all sides to recognise the contribution of charities to public services during a time of austerity.

His speech will argue that demands on the voluntary sector to provide services to society’s most vulnerable people continue to grow.

He will say, “The 2012 British Social Attitudes survey asked whether the public supported or opposed charities or other non-profits providing personal care for older people. 48.1% agreed with the proposition and only 24.7% disagreed…. To ensure the sector provides the services it should, we need to engage with a strong and independent voice”

However, he will rebuke the attitude of many politicians to the voluntary sector. Drawing upon the experience of foodbank charity The Trussell Trust, among others, he will argue that many politicians still fail to recognise the crucial role charities play in public life.  

“Iain Duncan Smith refused to meet these charities until they stopped ‘scaremongering’ about the causes of the increasing use of the Trussell Trust.  In fact the only reason that [a welfare] crisis has been averted is thanks to the work of charities. We need to emphasise that although charities are intrinsically ‘political’ that doesn’t translate into partisanship. We advocate for our beneficiaries and our causes.”

He will argue that recent controversies such as the protracted passage of the Government’s Lobbying Bill demonstrate that politicians continually underestimate the voluntary sector. 

“Coalitions like the Harries Commission on Civil Society, which has achieved significant concessions, and which ACEVO helped set up, make a decisive difference….. The historic role of charity gives me comfort and confidence that our sector always responds successfully to pressure from its critics. It also shows that the sector’s distinctiveness comes from its ability to speak truth to power.”

During the speech, Sir Stephen will announce that ACEVO will launch the voluntary sector manifesto in advance of the 2015 election. It will be preceded by a year long programme of engagement with the sector and with politicians entitled ‘Leading the way: The road to 2015’.

“The challenges of 2013 show that our sector will not succeed if we lie dormant. People are looking for leadership. Our ‘Leading the Way’ project, the voluntary sector manifesto and our research will make sure that regardless of which political party is in office after the election, the voluntary sector emerges as the winner.”


Read Civil Society Magazine’s coverage of the ACEVO’s Leading the way manifesto here.

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