Councils should reveal voluntary sector funding, says Clark
Ross Macmillan, 24dash.com
Councils should publish their spending on the voluntary and community sector as part of increasing transparency, opening up services locally and dispersing power more widely, Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has said.
Mr Clark has written to all council leaders saying the Government will expect them to publish all grants and payments, as well as copies of contracts and tenders, they make to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
Ministers believe it is essential local people know how much funding is directed towards voluntary and community groups not only to increase local accountability on spending decisions, but also because the sector can offer good value for taxpayers’ money when commissioned to provide services.
The Government believes that by making the data public it can help highlight inefficiency and open new markets for local small businesses and voluntary groups by revealing how services are currently delivered so they can assess whether they could submit a credible bid to run them differently and deliver greater value for money.
The letter acknowledges that many councils are strengthening their ties with the voluntary and community sector in innovative ways to help protect front line services and ensure support continues. It also encourages councils to share positive approaches taken to protect funding to the sector, drawing on the enthusiasm of volunteers, and the goodwill of local communities.
For example, Reading Borough Council believes that its voluntary activity contributes hugely to the town success. As a result it has allocated an extra £220,000 to voluntary organisations in the coming year taking its total funding to over £7m.
Ministers say the Localism Bill will create the circumstances by which the voluntary sector and community groups can challenge for the right to deliver services differently.
Mr Clark said: "Many councils are strengthening their ties with the voluntary and community sector because they recognise the vital role they can play in delivering high quality front line services.
"Often voluntary and community groups offer good value for taxpayers’ money when commissioned to provide services, drawing on the enthusiasm of volunteers, and the goodwill of local communities.
"By requiring all councils to openly publish their grants and payments under contracts and increasing transparency on local spending, we want to open up new opportunities for the voluntary and community sector to participate in local life.
"lf local small businesses and voluntary groups can understand how services are currently delivered they can better assess whether they might be able to put forward a credible bid to run them differently and deliver greater value for money."