Government accused of 'broken promise' on three-day volunteering pledge

19 Jul 2017 News

Steve Reed, Labour shadow minister for civil society

The Labour Party has accused the government of “another broken promise on volunteering” after a minister failed to say how the government would take forward a manifesto commitment to introduce three days of paid volunteering leave.

Steve Reed, shadow minister for civil society, wrote to the government to ask about plans to introduce three days of paid volunteering leave for employees - a commitment in the 2015 Conservative manifesto. But the government response did not even mention the pledge.

Margot James, minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, said in a written response: “The government is keen to see greater corporate responsibility on the part of employers and to encourage the public sector, charities and businesses to consider their impact on society. 

“Employer-supported volunteering can help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy, by helping charities and community groups to do more and by creating a more motivated and productive workforce. Many public sector organisations and businesses already run impressive volunteering programmes.”

‘Treating civil society with contempt’ 

Steve Reed, Labour shadow minister for civil society, said: “When these plans were announced, Labour warned they would end up being another broken promise on volunteering – and we were right.

“The Office for Civil Society has been demoted, the sector has lost its dedicated minister, and now plans to expand volunteering have been shelved. 

“After promising to build a ‘shared society’, the reality is Theresa May is treating civil society with contempt.”

The promise to bring in three days of paid volunteering leave was included in the Conservative Party’s 2015 manifesto, when the party won a majority in Parliament, but not in its 2017 manifesto. 

NCVO disappointed

An NCVO spokesman said it would be "disappointing if this policy has been dropped".

He said: "A nudge like this could have made a real difference by prompting people to explore new opportunities and giving them the time to contribute to their communities. Many employers are discovering the benefits of employer-supported volunteering and this would have helped others to do so as well.

 "The recent House of Lords charities committee report backed our call for the government to explore a right to time off work for trustees, like school governors or magistrates. This would be a simpler commitment to implement than the three days policy, and we hope the government give it serious consideration."


 

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