The word at the Public Services Delivery Network annual conference this week is that the third sector can no longer depend on boosting their funding through public service contracts.
NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington, speaking on the opening day of the conference, warned that the third sector would find it very difficult to secure financial support from 2011 onwards, as public service funding will begin to plummet to its lowest level since the 1920s. He proposed new methods of funding and new ways of delivering services as solutions to combat such a downturn and urged all third sector organisations to think innovatively from now on.
Martin Narey, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, commented that private sector companies would begin to pose a huge threat to the third sector as a struggle to secure the remaining public services contracts got underway. He advised voluntary organisations to prepare for stiff competition and claimed providing value for money, cost-effective services would be the only way to challenge heavy weight private sector groups.
Many speakers at the conference passed comment on the government’s attempts to help the third sector through the economic downturn. Whilst nearly all we in favour of the recently announced £42 million action plan for the sector, many claimed this simply wasn’t enough and pointed to the continued ‘bailing out’ of powerful private industries, instead of a focus on local authorities and voluntary organisations, as a serious error of judgement.
Source: Social Enterprise Magazine
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Tagged Barnardo's, economic downturn, Martin Narey, NCVO, privater sector, public services, Public Services Delivery Network, recession, Stuart Etherington, third sector, Third Sector action plan
Last week saw Third Sector Minister, Kevin Brennan, issue a challenge to the Third Sector.
Speaking about public services, Brennan called for the Third Sector to lead the way in this area in order to ensure excellence and fairness and bring communities closer together.
This announcement accompanies the release of a series of documents detailing how the government intends to work more effectively in partnership with charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises, in order to make the UK’s public services truly fit for 21st century challenges.
So, are these proposals a good thing for the sector? Undoubtedly, more opportunity to strengthen communities and become involved with the development of vital services is a good thing for Third Sector groups. But is there the possibility that by committing themselves to public services contracts, charities, voluntary and community groups and social enterprises could become agents of the state – possibly neglecting their own specialist areas for the sake of securing a lucrative contract?
For further information about the documents released and the Third Sector’s developing public services role, visit:
Source: Cabinet Office
Futurebuilders, a government-backed funding body which provides grants and loans to charities, will next month launch the Consortia Fund. The Fund is intended to help charities increase their capacity by joining forces and improve their ability to compete with large-scale, private organisations for substantial contracts.
The Futurebuilders funding, designed to promote merges and joint ventures, has been introduced in response to claims from the Third Sector that they often experience a “lack of power in the marketplace”. Certainly, a lack of Third Sector market influence has become more and more obvious in recent years – most notably, in last year’s bidding for contracts from the Department for Work and Pensions Pathways to Work programme, charities were regrettably, yet emphatically, shut out by private sector companies.
The Consortia Fund hopes to create more structural power for the sector by promoting consortia-building and joint ventures and will focus on more strategic thinking for the future of charities and voluntary groups.
For more information visit:
Department for Work and Pensions: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/
Source: Department for Work and Pensions