Government promises better deal for voluntary sector

The government is to reform the way it works with voluntary and
community organisations after a major cross-departmental review
found many were being hindered in their work by barriers in the
system, writes Derren Hayes.

With the help of £93 million earmarked in July’s spending
review for the active community unit and a further £125
million for the voluntary and community sectors’ public service
work, the government has set a four-year plan to address the issues
raised by the review.

It has pledged to properly fund the costs to the voluntary and
community sectors of providing services, encourage more long-term
contracts between the voluntary sector and local authorities, and
promote the wider use of their expertise in delivering

Unveiling the review, Paul Boateng, chief secretary to the
treasury and chairperson of the review’s ministerial steering
group, said its 42 recommendations provided a blueprint for
transforming the government’s relationship with the voluntary and
community sectors.

Its key theme is to develop strategies to strengthen the role
the voluntary sector plays in delivering public services at a local

Boateng stressed that getting local government on-board was
critical to the strategy’s success.

“We’re not underestimating the difficulty here,” he said.
“Practice in central and local government hasn’t been up to scratch
and the reality on the ground has sometimes been

The review highlights concerns that the ‘1998 Compact’ on
relations between the government and the voluntary and community
sectors have not been properly implemented. A senior official in
each government department will now “champion” the agreement.

The government will also consider new financial freedoms for the
voluntary and community sectors, and ensure that the price for
contracts fully reflects the cost of providing the services.

For download a copy of the cross-cutting review
click here

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