Willie Rennie: the Lib Dems’ pledges to the third sector


Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie writes for TFN

TFN Guest's photo

5th June 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

A vote for the Liberal Democrats can change the direction of our country. We want to give everyone a brighter future where people are decent to each other, as opposed to Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain.

Their miserable vision has become increasingly apparent in the last ten months and, unless we make a stand, this will be reinforced by a majority that no government has had for 20 years.

This election is an opportunity to reset the SNP government’s priorities too. Its obsession with independence has taken its toll on services. It’s time it abandoned its divisive agenda and focused on making our education the best again and delivering a step change in mental health.

Liberal Democrats are the only party that is pro-UK, pro-EU and progressive.

Wilie Rennie

Wilie Rennie

Our people are bright, creative and want a world that is clean and green, jobs, good health and the security of a roof over their head

Our avoiding the Tories’ hard Brexit will put the public finances in better shape, allowing investment in people and services.

In doing so, we will value the third sector’s role and their close relationship to communities and service users, the often innovative approaches they employ and their proven record of delivering.

A well-functioning economy which works for everyone cannot be based solely on companies owned and operated on behalf of small groups of shareholders. The third sector will benefit from our fostering a diversity of types of business.

Charities and social enterprises are uniquely placed to help break down the unfair divisions in our society and ensure we build a productive economy that works for everyone.

However, we recognise that they often operate in areas where profit margins are low and risks are high.

We will seek to provide as much certainty as possible with regards to funding, recognising the contribution that they make, demand and the need for continuity.

Liberal Democrats also believe in shifting the focus of government to preventative spending, tackling problems before inequality and disadvantage take root.

For example, after years of campaigning we have seen the Scottish Government adopt our proposals for the expansion of education and a pupil premium, policies that are proven to close the attainment gap.

Third sector organisations can help tackle problems at their source and as this shift continues we would expect this to present new opportunities to organisations around the country.

Elsewhere, we have consistently argued against the SNP’s centralisation agenda.

Power and decision-making have been stripped from communities and hoarded in Edinburgh. Liberal Democrats want power decentralised. The more decisions there are made locally, the easier it will be for smaller organisations to get a foot in the door.

Finally, we are concerned that some procurement procedures can bundle too many projects into single contracts, locking out smaller organisations from submitting tenders. Breaking contracts into smaller parts could make the process fairer.

Britain is open, fair and finds strength through its diversity. It isn’t inward looking or mean-spirited.

Our people are bright, creative and want a world that is clean and green, jobs, good health and the security of a roof over their head.

With the right involvement and support, third sector organisations are well positioned to help the next UK government deliver on those aspirations.

Willie Rennie is leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.