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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Age of uncertainty: less people support charities providing public services

This news post is over 6 years old

Austerity is driving public uncertainty about role charities should play in delivering public services

There has been a drop in the number of people enthusiastic about seeing charities providing public services.

In a study by consultancy nfpSyneregy, 41% of 1,000 people asked said they want to see charities play a greater role in delivering services traditionally provided by the public sector.

This is a drop from 56% when the same question was asked in November 2009.

At the same time, there has been a corresponding, if fairly slight, increase in hostility to the third sector moving into this area.

The proportion opposed to charities having a bigger role in service provision increased from 16% to 21%, and 38% say they are "not sure” if this is a positive development, compared with 28% eight years ago.

Factors driving this change could include the increasing popularity of nationalisation and state measures to combat Tory austerity, which was just beginning as the 2009 snapshot was taken.

The report, Public Service Provision by Charities, reveals that a majority (53%) thought it was very or somewhat acceptable for charities to provide public services in exchange for government funding. Only 8% t said they thought it was somewhat or very unacceptable.

Charities are still preferable to the private sector when it comes to public service provision, though.

The report says government funding has had little impact on individual donations. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said that knowing a charity received state funding would make no difference to their likelihood to donate to it.

Only 13% said it would make them less likely to donate.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said external factors – notably the shifting of the ground caused by the upheavals of austerity - have given way to the “rise of uncertainty” in terms of how the public perceives third sector involvement in the public realm.

He added: "There remains a big gap for charities to be delivering public services and for the public to be happy about it to an extent they are not with the likes of Serco and Capita.”