Councils are still reluctant to award contracts to voluntary sector organisations because their “socks and sandals” image remains.
Chief executive of charity Rainer Joyce Moseley told delegates at the National Children and Adult Social Services conference: “Even though the government says it wants the voluntary sector involved we are not seeing much of that happening on the ground.”
She said some councils still viewed the voluntary sector as unprofessional but they were also unwilling to contract out to third sector organisations because, in areas such as education, such moves had been associated with failing services.
Local authorities were also uncomfortbale about outsourcing work because they feared losing control of their budgets, said Moseley.
But she defended charities that chose to accept stautory funding against claims that they were sacrificing their independence. But she added: “Receiving statutory funding is not the issue. It is the way money is delivered, and the commissioning and contracting processes. The focus is often too much on minute details of contracts. That can kill our creativity.”
“Make us respond to targets but leave us some wiggle room for innovation,” she urged. She went on to dismiss the argument that large ‘Tescoised’ charities were unable to provide services of the same quality as smaller, local ones as “simplistic nonsense”.