The Big Welsh Society? - National Assembly for Wales

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The Big Welsh Society? - National Assembly for Wales

Alignment or divergence?The main elements of the UK Government’s BigSociety proposals are:• community empowerment: giving localcouncils and neighbourhoods more powerto take decisions and shape their area;• opening up public services: enablingvoluntary organisations, charities, socialenterprises, and employee-owned cooperativesto compete to offer publicservices; and• social action: encouraging and enablingpeople to play a more active part in society.Equipped to deliver?While the UK Government would like to seecharities taking over the operation of publicservices, there has been concern that Englandbased,private sector prime contractors are likelyto see the greatest benefit from this approach.The Department for Work and Pensions recentlyreleased a list of prime contractors that willdeliver its Work Programme across the UK, and88 per cent of these were private companies,largely based in England.Work Programme contracts won, by sectorIs the Welsh third sectorequipped to compete withEngland-based organisationsfor public services contracts?PrivateThe principles of civic participation andcommunity empowerment that are at theheart of the Big Society resound strongly inWales. However, is the Welsh third sectorequipped to compete with England-basedorganisations for public services contracts?VoluntaryPublicThe voluntary sector in WalesThe Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)estimates that there are around 30,000 thirdsector organisations and groups in Wales,including 8,475 registered charities. Over 90 percent of these organisations are classed as local,branches or projects. There are over 50,000 paidposts in the third sector, which is equivalent to2.6 per cent of all employees in Wales. A recentWCVA survey found that 49 per cent oforganisations felt that their situation woulddeteriorate over the next twelve months as aresult of the recession, and 87 organisationsreported that a total of 295 posts were ‘at risk’.Source: DWPHowever, the Work Programme will offer subcontractingopportunities to third sectororganisations in Wales. There are a number ofnew initiatives emerging that could add to theWelsh third sector’s capacity to deliver publicservices and make the role of smallorganisations in service delivery more important.

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