Contract competition is making culture 'harsher' in voluntary sector, according to report for Unison

Competing for public contracts is affecting the internal lives of organisations, warns academic

Competition with the private sector for public contracts has produced a "harsher managerial approach" and "less concern for staff" in the voluntary sector, a new report for public services union Unison argues.

The report, by Steve Davies, senior research fellow at the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, says the pressures of competition are affecting the internal lives of voluntary organisations.

There has been a "massive" increase in disciplinary procedures and managers are suspending staff much more quickly, according to one Unison activist interviewed for the report.

Some staff leave to take "unstressed" jobs such as working in a supermarket to escape the pressure, says the report, which is based on interviews with Unison members, voluntary sector umbrella groups and one sector chief executive.

Some organisations are being deskilled as cost pressures encourage the use of unqualified staff in tasks previously done by qualified employees, it says. "It runs counter to the efforts to ‘professionalise' staff in the sector," says the report.

"The combination of the way the competitive market works and the impact of the recession is creating new problems and deepening existing ones for the voluntary sector," it concludes.

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