Voluntary sector should be more involved in policy on children’s services, says Acevo

Voluntary sector organisations must be more consistently involved in policy decisions about children’s services if the government is serious about improving them, according to a report by the chief executives body Acevo.

The report, One million reasons for reform, has been produced by the Acevo Early Years and Childcare Taskforce, which includes representatives from Action for Children, Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society.

It calls for a culture change in the government so the voluntary sector is consistently engaged in policy-making on children’s services.

“The emergence of a new Children’s Improvement Board in helping design and implement reform of early years, without any voluntary sector representation, shows that old habits die hard,” it says.

“If the government is serious about transformation and voluntary sector engagement, it needs to ensure that voluntary organisations are around the top table as well as traditional players such as local authorities.”

The report also says there are “major barriers” to charities competing with public and private sector organisations to deliver children’s services, such as their inability to reclaim VAT.

It adds that payment by results must be additional rather than a final payment, so that organisations without the capital necessary to invest in services can still win contracts.

The report calls on the government to ring-fence its Early Intervention Grant, a fund for councils to run services for children, families and young people, because funds are failing to reach front-line services and it is causing services to close.