Friday, July 20, 2007

Changing charities and delivering public services

This week’s Society supplement in Guardian had a balanced and thoughtful article by Adam Sampson, the chief executive of Shelter. It explored the issues faced by increasing involvement of voluntary organisations (aka the third sector) in bidding for and delivering government funded work as part of the government's reform of public services.

Sampson concluded:

Rising to the challenge being dangled by the government is not the problem. It is finding a way to deliver more without compromising what makes us unique in the first place.

The article contrasts with some of the thinking coming from Nick Seddon at Civitas (an “independent” but pretty traditional right-wing think tank). Seddon advocates denying charitable funding to charities that deliver government funded services.

Some of Seddon’s analysis got an airing on the BBC’s recent Analysis documentary on Changing Charities (the transcript is still available).

While there are organisational dilemmas and challenges for the third sector in delivering government funded work, I believe that much of the third sector is up to it and can make a vital contribution to a mixed economy in public services.

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