If charities are subsidising public services, contracts should be renamed partnerships and charities should be given more influence over the delivery, the chief executive of Children England said last week.
At a New Philanthropy Capital event about public service commissioning on Friday, Kathy Evans said it was common to hear that charities are subsidising contracts from local authorities with with voluntary income.
Evans suggested that if local authorities are unable to cover the full costs of these contracts, they should be renamed partnerships and charities should have a greater say in design and delivery.
She said: “If charities are, for willing or choice-less reasons, putting charitable funding into public service delivery, then I think we need a conversation that changes the game and doesn’t hide that.
“I think there’s good reasons why charities can bring more money to the table than councils currently have, they can get a lottery grant, they can put some of their voluntary income behind it. Your voluntary income is public money.
“But if that is what’s needed, then don’t call it a contract and put it out to competition, that’s partnership. Make it a grant, get into partnership and say we’re funding this much, you’re funding that much, how do we do it together?
“Be smarter and more transparent about the fact that charities can bring added resource to a very resource-stretched situation. I don’t we should complain about saying we should never have to do it, but I do think we should change the terms on which we do.”
Growth at all costs
At the same event, Arvinda Gohil, chief executive of social action charity Community Links, said charities needed to be selective in their bidding for contracts and warned against growth as a measure of success.
She said: “Market forces will always be around and we have to decide as a sector how much we want to respond to it actively and how much we want to nuance it.
“You can work with the market but you as an organisation have to think about what is your mission.
“If you are here only to grow for the sake of growing then that is when the market actually starts to dominate your mission and that’s the danger with some of the larger charities I suspect. What happens is when you get into that machinery, you have got to keep going.”