Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Sceptical on Third Sector Services

Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Sceptical on Third Sector Services

Article excerpt

There is 'no compelling evidence' to show that the government's efforts to encourage the third sector to deliver public services is helping to raise standards, according to backbench MPs.

The Commons public administration select committee says that if the government wants to expand the role of the voluntary sector in service provision it needs to show the evidence for the strategy. Until it does, the committee would not support a 'mass transfer of services'.

The PASC's report, Public services and the third sector: rhetoric and reality, published on July 9, also says it is 'unrealistic' to think charities will be able to compete for government contracts on a 'level playing field' with public and private bodies.

Instead, the MPs argue, the government needs to develop an 'intelligent commissioning' approach, under which commissioners fully understand service users' needs and award contracts to the organisations best able to meet them.

Such an approach would allow third sector bodies to play to their strengths, such as being responsive to local needs.

The committee says this new approach will require a culture change across government. They also call for an end to 'perverse practices' such as clawing back surpluses from organisations that deliver services at a lower cost than expected. …

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