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Third sector independence in an age of austerity: relations with the state in an age of austerity

Dutton, Matthew

Authors



Abstract

Drawing on qualitative longitudinal research with third sector organisations (TSOs) in Scotland, this paper explores how the independence of TSOs has been affected by changing relationships with local authorities and the Scottish Government in the context of austerity measures introduced by the UK government. The paper has lessons for the way in which TSOs manage and learn from policy divergence and convergence when working with multiple levels of government.

The paper will explore how organisations understand and negotiate the tension between their independence and mission-driven social action, and delivering commissioned and contracted public services. In doing so, it highlights the challenges to independence in a dynamically changing political, policy and financial climate as well as opportunities for organisations to emphasise their distinctive contribution to public service delivery.

As a measure of the independence of TSOs, the authors use the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector established by the Baring Foundation. The Panel measures independence of purpose, independence of voice and independence of action. The paper uses these dimensions of independence as a framework to understand how TSOs understand and negotiate the tension between their independence and mission-driven social action and delivering commissioned and contracted public services in the context of a policy framework fragmented across local authorities and the Edinburgh and London administrations. The paper finds that the ability of TSOs to influence government thinking may be limited by a lack of core funding and stifled by a commissioning process that encourages competition between TSOs whilst limiting coordination and cooperation between funders and TSOs.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name Border Crossing: Implications for Civil Society in a 'Dis'-United Kingdom
Start Date May 18, 2017
End Date May 18, 2017
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2017
Publication Date May 18, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 15, 2017
Publisher Edinburgh Napier University
Book Title Third Sector Independence: Relations with the state in an age of austerity
Keywords Third sector, austerity, public services,
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/953539