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December 3, 2008

Labour Party review of Third Sector

Gordon Brown asked David Blunkett to produce Third Sector proposals for the next Labour Manifesto. His work has now been published as a Fabian Society pamphlet. This should be compared to the Tory policy development by Ian Duncan Smith. This extract clarifies Blunkett’s thinking around the core values of the Third Sector

The Fabian Society

The importance of developing an active and vibrant democracy is self evident. We believe that offering a voice to those seeking change, wishing to develop community solutions to meet needs, as well as regenerating neighbourhoods, should be heeded and supported. Proposals for ‘empowerment’ are therefore welcomed, but voluntary community and charitable approaches should seek to be more than simply an alternative methodology for delivering services. It is important that they are seen as partners in developing new approaches, creative and responsive solutions, and a restoration of the glue which holds society together.

In simple terms, they should encourage people to both campaign for, but equally to be active in bringing about change; contributing to a climate in which government itself can act and engage recipients of services in speaking out and in tailoring the services to their needs.

In this way, a functioning civil society can both underpin the role of enabling government and change the relationship between formal politics and informal action, thus restoring confidence in both participative as well as representative political processes.

Labour recognises the role that Third Sector organisations can play in achieving social change and building stronger, fairer communities. The continuing drive to create a fairer society lies at the heart of Labour’s values – a society in which poverty is eliminated, communities can thrive, and individuals are able to use their talents to best effect.

A number of organisations have already discussed the values which those working in the Third Sector should see as core to their activity. We believe such values which we seek to espouse and to reinforce through government action include:

• Independence: Embodying people’s right to associate and organise to help themselves and others, independently of the state.

• Social justice: Making a difference and promoting lasting social, environmental and economic change, for example through different ways of doing business; campaigning; and giving people a voice in the community and in the workplace.

• Valuing people: Valuing volunteers and the paid workforce by striving towards best practice terms and conditions, good HR and training and development.

• Diversity, dignity and respect: Recognising and celebrating diversity and viewing this as a strength, both in relation to society and to the sector; promoting social inclusion and equality of opportunity by reaching out to and engaging with the most disadvantaged and excluded communities.

• Participation and empowerment: Enabling people to participate in their community and places of work; give their time and money to causes they care about; have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives, collectively and individually; and greater control over their local economy.

• Collective wealth creation and social entrepreneurship: Using surpluses to further social objectives; investing in human and social capital.

• Responsiveness: Providing quality goods and services (including support and advocacy) in response to people’s needs.

• Sustainability: Working towards sustainable economic and community development, for example through economic regeneration; developing people’s skills and capacities; and building social capital within and between communities.

Full document here