Governance and public services: trustees' experiences of the changing role and responsibilities of the voluntary sector

Metcalf, Lindsey
Governance and public services: trustees' experiences of the changing role and responsibilities of the voluntary sector. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Social policy developments during the past three decades have profoundly changed the way in which welfare services are provided, by substantially increasing the role of voluntary organisations in the delivery of ‘contracted out’ public services in a ‘mixed economy’ of welfare. Policies implemented by successive Conservative, New Labour and Coalition governments during this period have promoted a key role for the voluntary sector as providers of public services in a range of areas including social care, health, housing, education and criminal justice (Griffiths, 1988; HM Government, 1990; Cabinet Office, 2006; Department of Health, 2010b; HM Government, 2010a). Such policies to shift responsibility for public service delivery onto the voluntary sector raise significant implications for voluntary organisations and the volunteer charity trustees charged with their leadership and governance. Although offering opportunities for some voluntary organisations, the public services contracting environment also presents a number of challenges for the voluntary sector. These include questions about the extent to which charities can maintain their independence, financial insecurity arising from short-term contracts, and the ability of organisations to remain focused on their charitable objectives and principles. Furthermore, complex and lengthy bidding processes and onerous monitoring and reporting obligations place a disproportionate burden on smaller charities with fewer staff and resources. This thesis analyses such social policy developments that are facilitating an increasing and diversifying role for the voluntary sector in welfare delivery, and assesses their impacts on volunteer charity trustees. It draws upon primary empirical research to elicit the experiences and perceptions of trustees occupying roles on the boards of local charities within this radically shifting policy environment. In total, 46 qualitative interviews were conducted: 25 with trustees of local voluntary sector organisations, 10 with Chief Executives (or equivalent) of local voluntary sector organisations, and 11 with representatives of influential ‘policy community’ organisations at both national and local levels. The thesis identifies the multiple and complex ways in which the changing policy landscape impacts upon voluntary organisations and, in turn, their trustees. It reveals significant ambiguity in how the trustee role is defined and perceived; varying levels of confidence among trustees about their ability to meet their responsibilities; and inconsistency in the training and support available to them in fulfilling their roles. The thesis offers a significant contribution to knowledge about the experiences of trustees responsible for governing and steering charities through the complex challenges arising from contemporary social policies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2012-09 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Trustees, Voluntary sector, Charity, Governance, Public Services, Third Sector, Volunteering, Contracting
Subjects: ?? HV ??
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law and Social Justice
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2013 10:14
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:38
DOI: 10.17638/00009837