Government approach to service provision 'confusing'

The Government is leaving charities high and dry by pursuing the delivery of public services through charities, MPs have been told.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change, told the Public Administration Select Committee on Thursday that the current approach was confusing. She was speaking at the committee’s final hearing into voluntary sector organisations delivering public services.

“Part of the problem is that the approach the Government has taken to public service contracting is muddying the waters,” she said. “All of a sudden, organisations find that a grant has been turned into a contract.”

The move to more contracts meant that service users were being forgotten, she said, because organisations were forced to satisfy the contracts rather than the needs of the people they were serving.

“The taxpayer realises the con in that they are paying for services twice: through their donations and through their taxes,” she added.

Peter Kyle, director of strategy and enterprise at chief executives body Acevo, told the hearing that if public services were to be transformed the one thing that needed to change was commissioning.

“The blockage in the system at the moment is commissioning,” he said. “This means the full potential of the third sector is not being realised.”

The select committee will now consider the evidence it has heard from a variety of sources before publishing a report, which not likely to be published until at least March.

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