Voluntary Organisations and Social Policy in Britain

Edited by Margaret Harris and Colin Rochester.



ISBN 0-333-79314-5

To the Thatcherite businessman the issue was simple. It took
four people to play a Mozart string quartet in 1785 and four in
2001 – not much of a productivity gain there, then.

The joke about measuring everything and valuing nothing is
readily understood and provides a good introduction to a book which
examines the way evaluating social policy, as it affects the
voluntary sector, is an increasingly complex task.

From a symposium held at the London School of Economics in 1998,
Margaret Harris and Colin Rochester have brought together a group
of academics to look at the fascinating and developing
relationships between voluntary agencies and the state, in a mixed
welfare economy.

Faced with the growing prominence of the third sector, there is
much for research to re-examine. Nicholas Deakin provides a useful
overview, looking at some of the growing links between public and
social policy and voluntary organisations and the editors provide a
readable synopsis of the subtle relationship between social policy
and voluntary organisations during the last two decades.

Issues of regulation, the role of grant-making foundations,
non-profit housing associations and the regulatory framework are
all tackled in chapters that could stand in their own right. Colin
Rochester, for example, writes a provocative piece on the
deregulatory framework on voluntary organisations, which helps to
illustrate the complexities of transposing a tool for small
businesses onto the not-for-profit sector.

Where the book fails is that it looks so perceptively at the
past few years that it ignores some of the new market forces for
change today. There is little about social entrepreneurship, nor
the way in which the new economy is beginning to impinge on the way
that third sector charities are run.

As large companies, for example, develop their corporate giving,
they are beginning to influence charity governance, policy and
strategy. Links between business and charities are increasing, in
the same way that some charities are growing more like businesses.
Harris and Rochester have provided a useful source book for anyone
keen to understand more about the complex interactions between
social policy and the growing third sector.

Chris Hanvey is director of the John Ellerman Foundation
and joint editor (with Terry Philpot) of Sweet Charity,
(Routledge, 1996).

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