The government should initiate reforms to unlock the voluntary sector’s potential to transform public services, the head of the chief executives body Acevo has told George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of next week’s Budget, Sir Stephen Bubb suggests that the Treasury considers providing funding to build capacity in the voluntary sector and make it easier for charities to apply for contracts.
Bubb, who said in January that the government’s efforts to build a "big society" had failed, calls on Osborne to recognise the "innovation and energy" of voluntary sector providers as he sets out priorities for the financial year ahead.
"If we simply try to deliver services in the same way as before, but with smaller budgets, vulnerable service users will undoubtedly be adversely affected," the letter says. "To mitigate the impact of spending restraint, we need new approaches and new providers. 'More of the same' is not an option."
Bubb highlights the Ministry of Justice’s reforms to rehabilitation services as a welcome step forward, but says "there is still more that could be done, in particular to ensure that public services can benefit from the innovation and energy of voluntary sector providers, as part of a diverse provider market".
He raises concerns that initiatives to encourage enterprise, such as the Small Business Bank, are often solely aimed at the private sector, and urges Osborne to include the voluntary sector where further measures in this area are developed.
He also calls on Osborne to "consider the needs of the voluntary sector and its beneficiaries" in the Budget, which takes place on 20 March.
"Acevo’s members often tell me that they are experiencing an increase in demand for the services they provide to disadvantaged groups, at a time when the sector is adapting to a constrained financial environment," Bubb writes. "There is a real risk that additional cuts would put extra strain on already-squeezed services."
"Further significant cuts to welfare budgets or local authority budgets, for example, would have a damaging effect on disadvantaged groups."