Headlines: January 21st, 2005

The majority of public sector bodies want voluntary groups to deliver more public services, according to a new survey. But the study by Futurebuilders showed that in most cases partnership working was not possible because of budget constraints.Futurebuilders, a 125 million pound Home Office backed investment fund run by a voluntary and community sector consortium, questioned local authorities, National Health Service Trusts and social services departments. It found that 80 per cent of them believed that voluntary and community groups could offer more public services and that they were better equipped to help some hard-to-reach groups.

Two thirds of those surveyed, though, said that they were hampered in contracting out services to the voluntary sector because of budget shortfalls and a culture of short-term contracts for provision of services.

The Futurebuilders initiative was established to improve the ability of the voluntary sector to deliver public services and its chief executive, Richard Gutch, said empowering the sector to compete effectively in the marketplace was one of its key aims.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, he said the research highlighted the size of the task the organisation was facing. “Many respondents felt the sector’s lack of experience was a barrier to successful tendering,” he said.

Partners in the Futurebuilders initiative include the national Council for Voluntary Organisations, Charity Bank, Unity Trust Bank and the Northern Rock Foundation.