What Future for Voluntary Services?

1st National Coalition for Independent Action  Inquiry reports released

NCIA has begun the release of 16 major reports as part of its Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services. Using the contributions of senior academics, voluntary sector managers, practitioners and consultants, this series of reports presents alarming evidence of the extent to which voluntary groups have allowed themselves to become subservient contractors, in the process muzzling their ability to speak up for their users and communities, and adopting ‘managerialist’ workplace practices in a ‘race to the bottom’. The reports also give examples of people resisting these pressures and their stand with local people affected by cuts, privatisation and austerity.

The first four reports in the series are now available as downloads:

  • The Ideological Context by Professor Dexter Whitfield examines the changes brought about by the commitment of successive governments to the principles and practice of neo-liberalism, explains what neo-liberalism is, how this has reshaped the environment in which the UK voluntary and community sector now operates and its impact on voluntary agencies.
  • Ordinary Glory: Big Surprise not Big Society by Dr Mike Aiken looks at the impact of this changed environment on small volunteer-based community groups, shows how the influence of contracting and marketisation has damaged all levels of voluntary action but describes how, with a little encouragement, these groups and their activities might discover the seeds of a positive future.
  • Outsourcing and the Voluntary Sector by Laird Ryan documents the Coalition Government’s drive to privatise public services and evidences the damage being wrought by competition and marketisation, shows where the money is going, and uncovers the growing trend of Voluntary Services as sub-contractors to profit-hungry corporations like Serco and G4S
  • The Devil that has come amongst us  by Andy Benson looks in detail at the procurement and commissioning regimes through which this progressive enslavement on voluntary groups has been achieved, and the ways this has diminished interest and capacity to take their mandate from users and communities and speak out against injustice.  

Further reports will be released over the next few weeks. These will deal with the rise of social enterprise and investment, changes in the ecology of the voluntary services sector, stories from the frontline, the failure of ‘leadership’ at local and national levels, and the impact on volunteering and employment practices. There will also be specific studies on services for black and minority ethnic elders and refugees and migrant workers and reports on Scotland and Northern Ireland. These reports will be available via the NCIA website – http://www.independentaction.net/category/inquiry-voluntary-services/updates-reports/.

Further information available from Andy Benson: andy@independentaction.net.