Unison attacks tendering model

Competitive tendering for public services is turning the voluntary sector into an "arm of the private sector", according to Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector trade union Unison.

Speaking at a public services summit in London last week, Prentis said pitting providers against each other to bid for services was transforming the sector against its wishes.

He said: "For us, public services have traditionally relied on co-operation."

Several children's charities present at the summit said there were problems with the bidding process.Jenny Willmott, head of membership development at the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, said: "It can be difficult for voluntary and community groups to compete in a commissioning environment."

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said: "We don't get the funding to find the time to put together a good bid. It's not something we would normally spend money on; we focus on service delivery."

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