Headlines: July 5th, 2001

The Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a review of the voluntary sector. The Performance and Innovation Unit in the Cabinet Office in carrying out the review will consider how the regulatory and legal framework of the voluntary sector could better enable existing organizations to thrive and grow; encourage the development of new types of organizations where needed and ensure public confidence. The report is due to be published in the winter.Announcing the review Tony Blair restated the Government’s commitment to working in partnership with charities and the voluntary sector to strengthen their contribution to the health and dynamism of the society and the economy. This can be interpreted as an indication that the Government plans greater involvement of the voluntary sector in the delivery of public services.

Last month Social Enterprise London launched an initiative to encourage ministers to embrace a range of radical new models in which community-based social enterprises would deliver key public services. The initiative is seen as an important ‘third way’ approach for service delivery that could combine the accountability offered by the public sector and the enterprise of the private sector. The services that social entrepreneurs can provide range from childcare to care for the elderly, health centres, leisure services and education.

With public sector union opposition building up against greater involvement of the private sector, bringing in the voluntary sector is being viewed as an attractive way to introduce a greater element of competition into public service delivery.