Human Rights Act may cover public service delivery

Government calls for charities to be covered by both human rights and freedom of information law

The Government is to consult on extending the Human Rights Act to voluntary sector organisations delivering public services, the Cabinet Office has said.

The consultation is outlined in the department's response - published on 11 December - to the Public Administration Select Committee's report on public services and the third sector.

The report, Public Services and the Third Sector: Rhetoric and Reality, called for charities delivering public services to be covered by both human rights and freedom of information law (9 July, page 1).

The Cabinet Office response agrees the "exercise of public functions should be covered by the HRA, regardless of who is performing the function". But it says charities should be subject to the act only when they are providing public services.

The response says the Ministry of Justice will comment "in due course" on its recent consultation on whether freedom of information legislation should cover bodies that deliver public services.

It also endorses the select committee's call for "intelligent commissioning" and for providers to be involved in the design of new, outcome-based contracts.

It says the Third Sector Research Centre and Office of the Third Sector's three-year programme to measure the social value of charities (Third Sector Online, 6 May) will address the committee's call for more evidence on the distinctiveness of services delivered by sector organisations.

Tony Wright, chair of the committee, commended the Government on its commitment to developing and supporting a thriving third sector. "It is clear from its thoughtful and considered response that it is seriously engaged in addressing these issues," he said.

Also ...

A new guide on forming consortia to bid for public service contracts has been published in response to criticism from the Public Administration Select Committee. The committee said forming consortia was "costly and time-consuming". The new guide from the Office of the Third Sector covers the pros and cons of consortia and contains advice on different kinds of consortia.

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