Government 'disregards voluntary sector'


Britain's volunteering sector is not getting the financial assistance it deserves from the UK government for its work helping provide public services, a lobby group has claimed.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) argues that the government's approach to volunteer organisations undermining the voluntary sector represents a "systematic failing" of policy.

A survey conducted by the NCVO points out that 55 per cent of respondents have not had their funding arranged in time for the current financial year, while 46 per cent had not had funding arranged for more than one year, despite government commitments that longer-term planning is preferable.

"Government talks about placing public services in the hands of the voluntary sector, and appreciating the value that it brings to those services," commented Campbell Robb, director of public policy at the NCVO.

"But while some transfers of public services have certainly taken place, it is happening in such an inefficient and ineffective way that little progress has been made to truly transform public services."

The release of today's survey comes as prime minister Tony Blair prepares to give a speech on public services to the Future Services Network's 'Three Sector Summit' in which he is expected to discuss the relationship between businesses, the voluntary sector and consumers.

Anne Scoger, who runs a local mental health charity in London, said that the government's failure to provide prompt payment in advance "sidelines" the voluntary sector and was detrimental to the management of small organisations such as hers.

'I don't think that there is any real understanding of voluntary sector delivery of public services," she said.

"Too often, the statutory sector sidelines voluntary organisations, instead of actively involving them in service design and delivery."

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