‘What are charities for?’ was the theme of last Monday’s Radio 4 ‘Analysis’ programme. 25 minutes of powerful evidence, including from interviews with us, set out the stall of how state co-option and contracting has sapped the independence of charities and all but extinguished the fire in their belly to fight for social justice. But … Continue reading
Another excellent contribution to our debate about the future of voluntary services comes from Linda Milbourne and Mike Cushman. ‘Complying, transforming or resisting in the new austerity?’ powerfully unpacks “… changes that appear to be modifying and restricting the voluntary sector’s previous role in social welfare, limiting its influence and its ability to act simultaneously … Continue reading
English second tier bodies have largely given up on retaining grant funding for voluntary groups but vigorous support for the virtues of grants over contracts persists in Wales. A recent BBC Wales report quoted Graham Benfield, Chief Executive of Wales Council for Voluntary Action, as saying the procurement process of offering and awarding contracts for … Continue reading
In an important new paper, Ursula Murray, from Birkbeck University of London, addresses many of the key issues of our ‘Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services’. Entitled ‘To what extent is the voluntary sector colonised by neo-liberal thinking?’, the paper examines the involvement of the voluntary sector in the dismantling of the welfare state, … Continue reading
Ian Jones, the Chief Executive of Volunteer Cornwall, has written to the Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee complaining that local services are being taken over by large corporations focussing on “profit, not people”. The letter advocates that outsourced public services providers should be restricted to small local businesses, charities and social enterprises that … Continue reading
State of the Voluntary Services Sector – here Bob Baker, Director of the Simon Community, writes in a personal capacity…..
“The so called voluntary sector is in a pretty parlous state particularly when it comes to any notion of resistance. I think that changes over the past 30 years have had really corrosive effects. One … Continue reading
In hard hitting evidence to the Baring’s Panel on Independence, commentator Les Huckfield accused lambasted the “London-centric” ‘leaders’ of the voluntary sector. “Rather than protecting voluntary and community organisations from the effects of Government policies and supporting their independence from Government,” he said, “national Third Sector Organisations have assisted and supported Government initiatives to fashion … Continue reading
An inspiring video – ‘A Polite Revolution’ – from activists in Barnet shows how an alliance between occupy, trades unions and local people can make an impact that goes beyond the sum of the parts. Faced with the closure of Friern Barnet library, the building was occupied and kept open by local people. This forced … Continue reading
Bucking the trend towards mergers, acquisitions and single contracts to corporate predators, positive news is coming in from West Sussex, where fresh agreements between the local authorities and the County’s seven CVSs explicitly recognise the importance of locally accountable provision.
Several years ago, the County was a focus of an NCIA study into the effects … Continue reading
One of the strongest features of 2012 was the obvious drift of the voluntary services sector towards a government-inspired vision of contracted and sub-contracted welfare providers, modelled on private business styles and practices, or shoehorned into ‘social enterprise’. And with this has come a deafening silence in speaking out against the privation and injustice being … Continue reading