Serco making money from the noble act of volunteering

A privatised future that gives us all a chill, writes Zoe Williams in the Guardian:

It is pointless at this stage to pretend to be surprised that charities are facing …£100m worth of cuts to their local authority funding, although it is ironic that the sector most flattered by “big society” rhetoric should be the one to take such an immediate and, in many cases, fatal kicking. As policy it’s hypocritical and short-sighted, but it might, in the interests of brevity, be time to start reporting only when that isn’t the case. More pressingly, where is this situation heading?

For more than a decade, Professor Ian Bruce of the Cass Business School explains, “there has been a significant shift from grant aid supporting charities doing very vital work to them being contracted to do that work on behalf of statutory organisations”. This was put in place by the last government, but only under the coalition has the potential for negative consequence really shown itself. Councils, in a bid to save money, have cut the amount they’re prepared to pay per “service hour”; smaller charities can’t tender for the contracts so they end up going to vast organisations, which often aren’t even not-for-profit.

Last month it was announced that 90% of the 40 contracts in the Work Programme had gone to corporations including Ingeus Deloitte, A4e, Serco and G4S. Lord Freud gave a speech last month in which he congratulated his government for the reach of its vision on… unemployment: these service providers, should they manage to find work for someone persistently unemployed, could get as much as …£14,000. This is probably greater than the salary of the person they’ve just found work for. Philanthrocapitalism often looks a lot more like capitalism than it does philanthropy.

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