Thursday, June 29, 2006

PM delivers positive message while figures reveal systematic failure

In his speech to the Future Services Network conference on 22 June, the Prime Minister highlighted government plans to reform public service delivery with greater collaboration between the public, private and third sector, while giving end-users more choice in how they access services.

The Prime Minister said: “It seems clear to me that partnerships between commercial companies, third sector organisations and the public sector will, more and more, be the way we deliver better focused and more cost-effective public services.

“A great deal has happened in the sector since 1997. It is the same sector in name only. Its scope, capacity and skills have been transformed. Of course the major credit for that goes to the people who have done it. But I like to think that a supportive government has played its role too.”

Meanwhile, the NCVO has released new research which highlights “systematic failing in the government’s approach to the delivery of public services by voluntary and community organisations”. The survey demonstrated how funding bodies were largely failing to provide contracts for longer than one year, while failure to agree payments in advance, or to pay on time, were commonplace.

Of those surveyed, 55% have not had funding negotiated and agreed promptly for this financial year, while 41% who had their funding agreed had not been paid on time. Also, 46% had not had their funding agreed for a period longer than one year, while 47% had not had funding agreed for payment in advance.

Campbell Robb, director of public policy at the NCVO, said: “Government talks about placing public services in the hands of the voluntary sector… Government needs to turn its rhetoric into reality and show a greater understanding of what the sector can bring and how it operates. If this does not happen, the real failure will not be that voluntary and community organisations cannot take on a greater role in public service delivery, but that citizens and communities will fail to get the services they need and deserve.”

Along those lines, Phil Woolas MP, minister for local government and community cohesion told the Future Services Network conference that the cross-government action plan was due to be launched this autumn, which will hopefully allow for greater inter-government collaboration at a time when it is calling for greater collaboration between sectors. The action plan was originally muted for May this year, though the cabinet reshuffle caused this to be pushed back.

Source: Charity Times news alert 22nd June 2006


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