Public service delivery provides the voluntary sector with a valuable source of income. In the UK, public services include health services, education, some housing and childcare, social services, transport etc.
The sector’s role in delivering public services expanded under Labour Government and is likely to continue to grow. However, government spending is being reduced, which means fewer public service contracts for voluntary organisations.
In addition, the workforce – those contributing to the financing of services – is getting smaller. An ageing population is likely to increase demand on services. And users have higher expectations both on quality of services and over choice and their level of control.
The state’s role in public service delivery has to adapt.
The coalition government wants to move away from the presumption that the state is the default provider of services. It wants to see:
- Greater levels of service delivery by both the private sector and the voluntary sector.
- New mixed models of delivery – including 'spin outs' from the public sector, mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises.
The Big Society is at the heart of the government’s vision for public services. Through the Big Society, the government wants to make services more responsive and accessible, with a greater role for users.
Voluntary organisations are well placed to help the government fulfil these ambitions because they offer holistic, joined-up services built around users.
What’s more, in an austere spending climate both preventative services and service efficiency become more important. These are both areas where the sector is strong and already plays a big part.
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