Independence undervalued: the voluntary sector 2014

The independence of the voluntary sector is undervalued and under serious threat, according to the report Independence Undervalued: the Voluntary Sector in 2014, published by the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector.

The panel was established in June 2011 to ensure that independence is seen as a top priority by the voluntary sector. It is chaired by Sir Roger Singleton, former chief executive of Barnardo’s, and funded by the Baring Foundation.

The report states that voluntary organisations do not place sufficient value on their independence and must fight harder to preserve it.

It also states that a new settlement between the sector and the state is required in order to safeguard the sector’s independence, and calls on the government to preserve the right of charities to bring judicial reviews, outlaw gagging clauses in contracts, restore a minimum 12-week period for consultations, and introduce legislation to outlaw state interference in the governance of charities.

In addition the Charity Commission must be encouraged and equipped to play a strategic role in promoting and safeguarding the independence of charities.

The panel state that there has been an increasing number of attacks on the policy and campaigning activities in the past year, including measures in the lobbying bill to limit political activity, and proposals to restrict charities’ access to judicial review.

In addition, charities are increasingly being funded through contracts, and that this is causing them to self-censor because they are afraid of losing income. It also believes the commissioning process is undermining the uniqueness of sector bodies by forcing them into competition with the private sector.

The report also suggests that some charities are under too much state control and that the Compact and the Charity Commission are not effective at safeguarding independence.

To download the full report visit