Barnardo’s head lambasts councils

Roger Singleton, chief executive of Barnardo’s, has questioned the
commitment of a “sizeable minority” of councils to work with the
voluntary sector to develop services.

Speaking at a children’s services conference last week, Singleton
said that in around a quarter of the 150 local authorities in the
England there is a “marked reluctance at senior officer and member
level” to work with voluntary organisations.

Last year’s government cross-cutting review set out guidelines to
councils for developing good practice in engaging the voluntary
sector and getting them more involved in shaping and delivering
local services. This has also been highlighted as a key policy of
new Conservative leader Michael Howard.

Singleton said that this vision was possible for the 75 per cent of
councils that work in partnership with the voluntary and
independent sector, but would be difficult for the remainder.

“There is a correlation between those that are on the list [of
authorities not engaging the sector] and those that are on special
measures and have no stars [in the government performance
ratings],” he added.

A spokesperson for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
said there was still a hardcore of councils “not thinking outside
of public or private service delivery” because of the way contracts
were structured.

The Local Government Association said it advised councils that it
was good practice to ensure voluntary organisations “are at a level
playing field” when bidding for contracts.

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