Action plan calls for charities to help design public services

The voluntary sector should design as well as deliver public services, a new Government policy document will say today.

The long-awaited Public Services Action Plan will outline opportunities for charities in 18 policy areas, including probation, welfare to work and health.

In a new departure, ministers will augment their often repeated desire that charities should provide more public services with the proposal that they should be brought into the planning stage too.

Charities minister Ed Miliband told Third Sector: "At the commissioning stage, the third sector has a role in designing the service."

Some charities working in such areas as offender management have previously warned that they want not only to take on services transferred from the state, but also to be involved in changing the nature of those services.

Miliband said the action plan was an attempt to improve the commissioning process from beginning to end. "The third sector feels that its needs aren't understood and that it is not properly considered as an option by commissioners," he said. "The key emphasis we need to have is on the quality of commissioning that will help the third sector have a level playing field."

Today the Government will also release an interim report on its review of the future of the third sector, which forms part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Miliband said the report would examine the issue of providing more stable funding for voluntary organisations. "I've said before that three-year funding should be the norm rather than the exception, and I want the spending review to look at that," he said.

The full review will be published in the spring.

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