‘Councils should value voluntary sector more’

Local authorities do not understand the value of the voluntary
sector, a leading civil servant has claimed.

Alan Smith, policy adviser at the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, said
there was little understanding within local strategic partnerships
of the voluntary sector’s contribution to services and

He doubted whether local strategic partnerships appreciated the
value of the voluntary sector. “My experience is they do not.
Council members and officers value individual organisations. They
don’t value the sector as a whole because in the main they don’t
know what it is,” he said.

Smith said very few councils had cited the voluntary sector in
their efficiency statements to government, which detail their
savings plans for 2005-6, despite the huge contribution the sector
could make to efficiencies.

He also said the sector could help councils improve their
performance and enhance their community leadership role. But he
added that charities needed to unite locally and become better at
articulating their value.

He called for a big debate on the role of the sector in every
locality, led by council overview and scrutiny committees.

Chris White, chair of the LGA’s regeneration board, said that
councils needed to be “more generous in our thinking about the
voluntary sector” by providing longer-term contracts and funding
for charities.

He also called for dedicated funding to build capacity in the

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