Headlines: March 3rd, 2006

The government is facing a call to show real commitment to transforming the part that voluntary organisations play in delivering public services rather than simply transferring responsibility for delivery.The National Council for Voluntary Organisations wants to see a systematic plan to improve problem areas in funding and contract negotiation. The call follows the publication of the Public Accounts Committee report ‘Working with the voluntary sector’, which looked into government funding of the voluntary and community sector.

The committee’s report said the Government had failed to meet key targets to increase the involvement of voluntary organisations in public services and it recommended the setting of new targets beyond this year. It said this step would provide a real incentive for departments to increase their involvement in the sector.

Stuart Etherington, the Chief Executive of NCVO said for its members the most important things was for the government to get the conditions for public service delivery right, rather than simply setting new targets. He added, “As this report has highlighted, the voluntary sector can deliver public services better than either the public or private sectors, and this should provide an incentive for government funders to increase their involvement with the sector. However, the conditions need to be right.”

The NCVO has set out its ‘terms of engagement’ on public services as an action plan for change for both the Government, and the voluntary sector. It has urged the Government to adopt the terms. They include ensuring that contracts are properly negotiated and funded and at the same time that voluntary organisations should be open and accountable.