Headlines: July 25th, 2002

The voluntary sector is set to take on a much more significant role in the delivery of public services following the finalization of the Treasury’s Cross Cutting Review. The sector is already extensively involved in the delivery of public services with some 61% of charities concerned with accommodation and housing, social care, health, education and training. The Review report, which will be published in about one month, will set out a blue print for getting the sector more involved in service delivery.That sector will be encouraged to bring its distinctive approach to service delivery such as its ex-addict volunteers and employees working on a drug rehabilitation programme or ex-offenders working with young offenders. Public service workers are, too often, perceived as representatives of an alien authority, but the voluntary sector is free to side with the user against the perceived threat of authority. For margin alized groups who are hard to help, this identification with the user perspective is crucially important

The voluntary sector has an annual income of 15.6bn pounds, a paid workforce of 563,000, plus at least 3m volunteers who generously give of their time. To allow the sector to be come more engaged in delivering public services unnecessary obstacles, including archaic rules will be removed.

The Active Community Unit in the Home Office will take the lead in implementing the review. It has a target to increase sector activity by 5% by April 2006. A new 125m pound investment fund will help the sector overcome barriers to effective service delivery and modernize the infrastructure.