Independence in Question is the fifth annual assessment of the state of health of the voluntary sector, following on from the final report the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector published in February 2015. The report was published by Civil Exchange with the support of the Baring Foundation and the Lankelly Chase Foundation.
The report warns that the independence of the charity sector is at a five year low, leaving an unhealthy imbalance between community, private sector and state power and the sector in a critical position, and it calls for united action by the voluntary sector to stave off potential further threats.
The report also highlights how the new ‘no advocacy’ clauses in all taxpayer funded grants announced in February 2016 mark a key shift in the balance of voices shaping public policy. The input of grass root and expert voluntary organisations ensures all voices in society can be heard, the report argues, and is especially important at a time of massive changes in services and benefits. It documents a range of challenges that are weakening the voluntary sector including unsupportive statutory funding and contracting arrangements, and challenge to the independent purpose of some charities caused partly by commercialisation which may affect the distinction between the sector and the private and public sectors.