The general theme of the piece is that whilst Government is encouraging the idea that the voluntary sector should play an increasingly prominent role in delivering services Local Government budget cuts are actually undermining the capacity of the sector to be able to deliver.
Especially interesting is the following passage dealing with the Governments response to these points:
Asked about the criticism that there was no strategic plan, Cabinet Office mnister Francis Maude told the BBC: "We're not going to dictate from the centre what every local authority should do. They must be accountable to their local communities."
He said three quarters of voluntary organisations got no state funding so would not be affected by council cuts.
Firstly this seems like a clear case of buck passing. Having worked for a local authourity in the past it was clear to me that Local Authorities have very little room for maneuvre. Most of what they do is prescribed by statute or dictated by central-governemt. With barely enough funding to do what is required of them Local Councils main concern is simply one of survival; a case of figuring how to put food on the plate, not making an informed choice between steak and chips or cod and chips. In other words local authourities whatever their persuasion or outlook will seek to cut soft targets; libraries and funding for local voluntary organisations.
The second point I really must take issue with is the figure quoted that 3/4 of voluntary organisations receive no state funding. This may be true, but it does not account for the size of voluntary organisations which vary enourmously from a one room operation consisting of a handful of people, to a national organisation such as Shelter, or a multinational like Greenpeace. Organisations also do differnt activities in different policy areas; not all directly provide services, some provide office support to other organisations, some engage in advocacy and others may act as umbrella groups. So it is not really possible to compare organisations on an individual basis. It may well be more likely that it is the organisations most involved with service provision that are in receipt of state funding.