Byline: Jonathan Davies
THE importance of the voluntary sector in working in partnership with public services to care and support people in our communities has been recognised for a long time.
But as the recession bites and there is a great deal of speculation about sweeping cuts in public sector funding, there is also concern about the effect this will have on the voluntary sector and the services they provide.
But there is another way of looking at this. If the voluntary sector has the advantage of being more effective and flexible in providing certain aspects of care, then maybe we can turn the pressure on public funding into a virtue. Perhaps now more than ever, the voluntary sector can play an even greater role in the planning and delivery of community services. Perhaps the current circumstances provide us with an opportunity too good to miss.
In John Mohan and Karl Wilding's article on the History and Policy website - Economic Downturns and the Voluntary Sector: What Can We Learn From Historical Evidence - the authors say that the confirmation that the UK economy is now in recession has prompted speculation about the effects of an economic downturn on charitable giving and the voluntary sector with several commentators predicting a potential financial crisis.
They assert that the evidence cited in the current debate is thin and policymakers are in danger of producing policy that is either badly informed by poor research or uninformed by history. Historical evidence can offer guidance on the effects of changes in the real economy on the voluntary sector. Drawing on British and North American studies, long-run evidence seems to suggest that there is a definite recessionary impact on charities, but although financial donations dip they do recover over time. In the long term the proportion of income given to charity by individuals remains generally constant - and …