Charities delivering public services

Charities work in a wide range of ways to help their beneficiaries and obtain funding from many sources. One of these may be by delivering services through a funding agreement (grant, contract or service level agreement) with a local authority, NHS Primary Care Trust or government department. These services may include:

  • advice and advocacy;
  • care of the elderly and provision of sheltered accommodation;
  • education; medical care and treatment;
  • museums, art galleries and libraries;
  • recreational and leisure services;
  • recycling, refuse collection and disposal;
  • social housing; and urban or rural regeneration.

Guidance on public service delivery

Our guidance Charities and Public Service Delivery – An Introduction and Overview (CC37) gives an overview of the legal and good practice issues that charities need to consider. Some of the key questions it answers are:

  • Can charities deliver public services?
  • Can charities use their own funds to pay for or contribute to services that public authorities normally provide or fund?
  • What are the legal requirements that charities must comply with?
  • What recommended good practice should charities consider?
  • What risks should charities be aware of?
  • What sources of help and advice are available?

On 21 March 2006 the Charity Commission hosted a conference on the delivery of public services by charities. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of the Commission’s key messages on public service delivery amongst practitioners, funders and grant givers; to learn from the sector’s experience; and to discuss the impact of public service delivery on the charitable sector.

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Research report on public service delivery

In 2006 we carried out an online survey of registered charities to find out about their views and experience of public service delivery. Over 3800 charities responded to the survey.

Although the report may not be fully representative of all charities on the register (not all charities would have been able to access the internet in order to respond, or felt motivated to do so), it reflects the experiences and views of those who participated, and we believe that it highlights a number of important issues that continue to generate debate with the sector and government.

To read the research report: Stand and deliver: the future for charities delivering public services

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Key legal decision

The key principles in our guidance on this topic are based on the Commission’s decision on the registration of Trafford Community Leisure Trust and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (referred to as the 'Wigan and Trafford Decision').

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