A new policy document from chief executives' body Acevo on the future shape of voluntary sector delivery of public services has come under fire from the NCVO.
Acevo published a book yesterday outlining how major parts of the public sector could be transferred to the voluntary sector. It reiterated its earlier insistence that employment training, children's services, the supply of independent living aids and prisons are all ripe for voluntary sector takeover (Third Sector, 4 May).
But the NCVO says such a move would "warp public perception of the role of the sector" and overshadow charities' work in areas such as advocacy and campaigning.
"We must be wary of trying to take on the role of the public sector wholesale," said NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington. "There is a great risk that we will take on the existing problems and find ourselves recreating them, damaging the services we already provide and alienating our users."
The Government has made wider public service delivery the central plank of its voluntary sector agenda. Acevo's book, Communities in Control: The New Third Sector Agenda for Public Service Reform, urges ministers to implement the policy comprehensively.
It calls for a cross-departmental team - including central and local government officials, economists and third sector service providers - to be convened and charged with presenting firm proposals to the Cabinet Office within 18 months.
"We want to see the state give substantial sums of money to third sector organisations to help them take over delivery of public services, as happened with housing associations in the 80s," said author Nick Aldridge, Acevo's director of strategy.
- See News, page 3, and Editorial, page 22.