The National Coalition for independent action has released three more reports from its Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services.
The first – The Rise and Influence of Social Enterprise, Social Investment and Public Service Mutuals from Les Huckfield of Glasgow Caledonian University. It documents how New Labour and Coalition governments, within a framework of neo-liberal thinking, have introduced business concepts and quasi markets as a way of re-engineering voluntary services. The report shows how, using ‘capacity building’ and with the support of sector leadership bodies, the voluntary services industry has been reined in as ‘governable terrrain’ and led to adopt private sector assumptions and ways of working.
The second two linked reports come from Ursula Murray and Linda Milbourne of Birkbeck College, London. These major reports include new research findings and examine the changing ecology of the voluntary sector, paying particular attention to the emerging differences – and fortunes – of small and large voluntary services groups. Does Size Matter Paper 1 looks at the trends in income distribution across the sector and the evidence from area-based studies on the extent to which size is a factor in influencing experiences and approaches. Does Size Matter Paper 2, drawing on in-depth interviews with 17 voluntary groups, explores the specific experiences of competition between larger and smaller providers in specific service areas. The paper concludes by setting out the practical and ethical dilemmas for groups caught up in this turbulent environment.
The reports are downloadable at www.independentaction.net.