The voluntary sector has a critical role to play in delivering the Government's rehabilitation revolution. We will open up the market to enable a greater number of independent providers, including from the voluntary and social enterprise sectors, to contribute towards reducing crime and reoffending. We have consulted widely with the sector to develop the proposals in our Green Paper.
I want to reassure my hon. Friend that we certainly do not wish the smaller charities to be excluded from the rehabilitation revolution. The organisations that she mentions are not in the pilot scheme that we are running in Peterborough, where the social impact bond involves two key voluntary organisations, and we want that to continue in the other pilots that we are pursuing.
We obviously welcome the rehabilitation revolution, but is the Minister aware that there is concern among prison governors about the increased amount of time that inmates will be required to spend in their cells, thereby being unable to partake in any rehabilitation, because of the cuts to the prison budget? What assurances can he give prison governors that they will not have to increase the amount of time for which prisoners are just banged up?
I am afraid that prisoners were also spending too much time in their cells and not pursuing purposeful activity under the previous Government, when there were increases in spending, year on year. So this problem is not simply linked to spending. We are determined that prisons should be places of work and purposeful activity, so that we can focus on reducing reoffending.
Assuming that payment-by-results schemes get beyond the pilot stage, what commissioning organisations do Ministers envisage deciding between private, public and third sector bidders, and how will the scheme function to provide contracts on a scale that charities and third sector organisations can undertake?
As we set out in the Green Paper, we are consulting on how the five pilot schemes should proceed in various sectors, in order to see how we can make payment by results work. The existing pilot, involving the Peterborough social impact bond, is also still running. Our intentions are to unlock the expertise of the independent and third sectors in order to reduce reoffending, and to examine how the public sector can participate in the schemes.
In the corner of Staffordshire and Cheshire, we have a state-of-the-art community chaplaincy scheme, which has got reoffending down to 12 %, compared with the national average of 70%. In the meeting that the Ministers have promised to have with Staffordshire Members, will they undertake when considering rehabilitation to take account of the best practice shown by that scheme in Stoke-on-Trent?
Those are precisely the kind of schemes whose expertise we want to unlock, and we want to engage more of them where we can. The rehabilitation revolution will provide an opportunity to do that. The key is to upscale such projects and make them more widely available, which is why payment by results offers such an important opportunity.