Success of voluntary review depends on sector ‘getting house in order’

The voluntary sector must “get its own house in order” if it is to
make a success of a Treasury review announced last week on
transforming the sector and improving its ability to deliver public

The director of the Home Office’s active community unit Helen
Edwards told the National Association of Councils for Voluntary
Service annual conference that the government had “held its hands
up” to its failure to invest in the sector.

Addressing the conference, the day after The Role of the
Voluntary and Community Sector in Service Delivery
published, she said that the Treasury plans and the allocation of
£218m to implement its 42 recommendations reflected the
genuine commitment of government to the voluntary sector”, and
called on voluntary organisations to match that commitment by
adopting a more “co-operative approach”.

Two advisory panels, one of voluntary sector members and one of
public sector members, are among a range of measures to implement
the review. They will be overseen by Lord Filkin, minister with
responsibility for the voluntary sector.

The 46-page review sets out an ambitious agenda, but its success
hinges on a real partnership between the government and the

“Please don’t get a place on the advisory board just for your
organisation. We are asking for more of a co-operative approach
between organisations,” Edwards said.

“The real trick of this is to end up in a situation where local
authorities start wanting to support the voluntary sector because
they can see what the sector brings and can help them achieve their
targets,” she added.

But delegates expressed concerns about existing relationships
between the statutory and voluntary sectors.

They said they had little faith in the commitment of government and
local authorities to build capacity within the sector or in the
compact, an agreement between the voluntary sector and government
that has been in place since 1998 but has still not been fully

Edwards acknowledged these fears but warned that transformation of
the sector would “not happen overnight”.

– The Role of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Service

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