Clash over extent of independence

Charities clashed last week over the question of their independence from government and councils, at a National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service conference.

Ben Hughes, chief executive of community groups umbrella body Bassac, said its research had shown the sector’s independence had been undermined by a shift towards taking public sector contracts to provide services.

He said: “Our members are telling us that this is working against the vision of strong local partnerships [between the public and voluntary sectors].”

However, Turning Point chief executive Lord Victor Adebowale said it was up to umbrella bodies such as Bassac and NACVS to stand up for the voluntary sector’s independence when it came under threat from central and local government.

But he admitted there was some “terrible practice” involving public bodies threatening to withdraw funding from charities for criticising them.

Adebowale added that charities needed to become more assertive in claiming full cost recovery from funders for the public services they delivered, saying this is the path Turning Point had followed.

He said: “We have lost some services as a result. But I don’t want to run services on the cheap.”


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