The government is unduly influenced by just two per cent of voluntary sector organisations, says the DSC, and this tiny minority forms much government policy for the sector. The two per cent is the cut-off point CAF uses in its research to differentiate betweeen the very largest/super charities and the rest of the sector, however, the DSC says it refers to those organisations closest to government policy making which are mainly, but not exclusively the largest few.
The Directory of Social Change has published a position paper – The Interplay Between State, Private Sector and Voluntary Activity: A Vision for the Future – challengign the fundamental thinking behind a number of government policies and practices towards voluntary activity.
It says that the vast majority of the voluntary sector needs grant funding, not public sector contracts and states that the future of the voluntary sector is not for the state to determine.
The paper recommends that the government should review the way it consults the voluntary sector to produce more regular and representative feedback.
The government also needs a clear definition of ‘public service delivery’, and which elements of this the voluntary sector should engage with. There should be more research into how public service delivery impacts on perceptions of the voluntary sector.
And following on from this, there should be more clarity about how the voluntary sector wants support, involving a clear distinction between grants and contracts, liberalisation of grant conditions, and more equitable contract terms.
DSC director of policy and research Ben Wittenberg said the report sought to contribute to the growing debate about the relationship between state and voluntary activity. The voluntary sector’s independence is critical both for its own future and for the achievement of government objectives to energise civil society.
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