For decades politicians on both the Left and the Right have struggled to utilise the best of the charities and social enterprises delivering so much remarkable work in the poorest parts of our country. Some Governments have sought to use these men and women to help people but have failed to trust local leaders and commissioners to do what they do best. This has, at times, meant the relationship between Whitehall and the social sector has become dependent and dictatorial. Other administrations have side-lined charities in favour of clunky but easier to control State programmes leaving many facing an existential threat. Some have chosen to release the ‘mega-charities’ but overlooked the smaller grassroots organisations who have much to give too. During the last ten years the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has sought to find ways for those in power to find a better balance: to make the most of this exceptional group of men and women thereby unlocking their capacity to reverse disadvantage in people’s lives. It was therefore welcome that a number of our recommendations from Breakthrough Britain were introduced in 2010 to seek to move in a more productive direction.
This report, Social Solutions, sets a new course for the future of the social sector. We argue that there is a much greater role the sector can take in our public services. Unleashing this potential means looking at encouraging more sensitive commissioning, as well as removing some of the regulatory barriers which prevent smaller organisations taking part.