Voluntary bodies have welcomed the final report of the Government’s Third Sector Review as marking a significant shift in its approach to the voluntary and community sector. Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said it showed awareness of the sector’s role rather than focussing on its part in delivering public services.
Mr. Etherington said the NCVO had been arguing for this approach for the last five years. “The report shows a much deeper understanding of the sector, not simply focussing on the sector’s role in service delivery, but recognising the need for a more holistic outlook, which values our independence,” he said. He also welcomed the report’s focus on the campaigning role of voluntary and community groups and the renewed recognition of the importance of the Compact.
The government report sets out a commitment that the Minister for the Third Sector will report annually to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on progress towards building three year funding relationships between local authorities and voluntary bodies providing services. Other objectives are set out under three cross-cutting themes, supporting a wider range of activities by the third sector, particularly community action and campaigning, focusing more on investing in the long-term future of the sector’s work and focusing more on improving local partnerships.
The NCVO believes the challenge now is for the Government to implement the review. “This must go beyond simply seeking to work with voluntary and community organisations to deliver public services and recognise the sheer diversity of the sector and the way that it works,” Mr. Etherington added.”