August 20, 2007

Third Sector Funding, National Audit Report

nationalauditoffice.jpgThe National Audit Office has published a report: Public Funding of Large National Charities [PDF], August 2007. This report came about because:

"Large charities are important providers of some public services, but public bodies' funding arrangements are often unnecessarily complex and costly. Public bodies need to work together to bring coherence and consistency to their funding practices, to ensure that charities' valuable work is not hampered by bureaucracy."

And thus seeks to address this issue. Whilst it is not disputed that this is a real issue for the voluntary sector, personally I would like the government to take a more serious look at the role of the third sector.

Many charities in the UK, including deaf ones, rely on public funding as a significant part of their income. For example, contracts for mental health services, care homes, and this could be rolled out to the possible dispensing of hearing aids, etc.

What the government perceives as the role of charities, and possibly charities themselves; I think is a lot different from how we would like them to be. For example, is pushing certain services into the charitable sector an excuse for public services to marginalise us, and not make adjustments. Is such measures against or shying away from the Disability Equality Duty, which requires public bodies to have considerable influence in the wider community. How can it be doing this, if it pushes off services onto charities?

The government obviously somewhat takes this seriously, as there's such a thing as the Office of the Third Sector. This underlines the influence that the voluntary sector has on society, and more to the point the delivery of services.

I would like to see a serious re-examination of its relationship. However, who campaigns for this to happen? Charities and umbrella groups that represent them aren't going to do so, because it won't be in their financial interests. Yet who are they there for? The government perhaps is unlikely to do so, because its not good at delivering services targeted at marginalised groups.

There is little recognition that the voluntary sector does not necessarily represent the best interests of its targeted groups. Their business interests and the interests of its beneficiaries aren't necessarily one of the same, and yet its easy to assume these two are, because of the word 'charity'.

Ask the readers:
What are your opinions on this subject?

See also:
Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?

Sources and Further Reading:
National Audit Office Press Release
NAO: Home Office Working with the Third Sector, 2005 [PDF]
NAO: Working with the Third Sector Executive Summary, 2005 [PDF]
Implementation of Full Cost Recovery, 2007 [PDF]
NAO Press Release: Implementation of Full Cost Recovery, 2007
NAO: Financial Relations with Third Sector Organisations
Third Sector Commissioning Taskforce
Third Sector Network
Full Cost Recovery