Magazine article Public Finance

It's Oh So Quiet

Magazine article Public Finance

It's Oh So Quiet

Article excerpt

For a politician, Phil Woolas can be disarmingly honest. Asked by Public finance to rate the way that councils work with the voluntary sector, the local government minister admitted this week that 'some are good... others are appalling'.

Well, the poor performers will need to smarten up sharpish. The provision of public services by charities and other voluntary groups is New Labour's latest Big Idea. And local government will feel the heat more than most.

Woolas was one of four ministers, not to mention the prime minister, who launched this new approach at the Future Services Network conference.

He made all the right noises about offering longer-term contracts and stable funding. But there is still a lot of work to do, particularly on issues such as full-cost recovery, before charities will be convinced.

If the third sector is to be more involved in running community hospitals, helping benefit claimants and delivering social services, the relationship with councils will have to improve markedly.

No doubt this will be one of the issues discussed at next week's Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth. …

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