Report: 'service delivery threatens independence'

The third sector's increased role in public service delivery is stifling its distinctiveness and damaging its contribution to civil society, according to new research by the Carnegie UK Trust.

The trust's report, The Shape of Civil Society to Come, claims that the concentration of resources in a smaller number of large organisations threatens the sector's independence and autonomy. It goes on to criticise the "conformity of governance" among voluntary and community groups that are using corporate and enterprise models necessitated by government contracting, which it says leads to a loss of diversity.

The research is part of a two-year inquiry into the potential threats and opportunities facing civil society up to 2025. The findings are based on workshops held with more than 400 leaders in the public and third sectors.

Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation and chair of the inquiry commission, explained that the research was a proactive attempt to anticipate obstacles and opportunities. "Our aim is to help civil society shape the future rather than simply respond to events when they come," he said.

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