Commission allows charities to play full role in delivering public services

A landmark decision by the Charity Commission will allow charities
to deliver whole public services that public authorities previously
had a duty to provide.

Until now, organisations registered as charities have been allowed
to run services that supplement a public provider, but not the
whole service.

But a ruling has allowed two limited companies that were running
leisure services for Trafford and Wigan councils to become
charities and deliver the councils’ leisure

Charities will now be able to run whole services providing they are
sufficiently independent of councils. As a result, charities could
be set up specifically to deliver public services, using charitable
funds to do so.

The commission’s director of legal services Kenneth Dibble
said the decision represented “real progress at a time when
charities are being encouraged to develop capacity and ability to
deliver better public services alongside public

But Barnardo’s UK director of operations Chris Hanvey warned
that if the public felt their money was being used to prop up
statutory services, they might become wary about giving to

At the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ annual
conference last week, the drive to increase charities’
involvement in delivering public services was yet again put under
the spotlight.

Chief executive Stuart Etherington warned the conference of an
“increasing gap between the rhetoric of ministers and the
reality of services on the front line” on the issue of public
service delivery and urged local government and the sector to
become allies instead of “squabbling over who said

He demanded an explanation from the Home Office for the delay in
the distribution of £80m allocated for the ChangeUp

Cash from the programme, which is designed to build the
sector’s infrastructure to deliver public services, is to be
spent on governance, IT and staff development.

“It is nearly two years since the government got involved and
we are still waiting for them to deliver the money and commit to
this for the long term,” he said.

Etherington added that he feared politicians of all parties were
starting to view the sector through a “very narrow

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