The third way will ease the hurt of budget cuts
I havelistened to and read avidly the media and political comments on the cuts to the block grant and how those cuts might impinge on the public and private sectors.
However, I have yet to uncover opinion from any source that might suggest a third way to assist budgeting in a positive way.
The model for that third way could involve the use and co-operation of the voluntary/ community sector through the outworking of Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society ideal.
Much of the Big Society envisaged by Cameron centres on facilitating the formation of social economy projects to sustain the voluntary and community sector.
So surely the Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, has a golden opportunity to approach David Cameron and say 'give us the tools and we will do the job.' This concept could be rolled out in Northern Ireland as a pilot for the rest of the UK.
We aren't suggesting supplanting staff dedicated to their vocation, rather we are proposing that projects, in the field of healthcare etc, could be expanded, or projects which haven't seen the light of day owing to the strictures of finance, could be rolled out through an alliance with the voluntary/community sector.
There are advantages in adopting a partnership approach to service delivery: The voluntary/ community sector - the third sector - can deliver front line services much more efficiently than the current delivery process.
The third sector should not be viewed as a cheaper way of delivery - though that can be the case - more a better way of delivery.
Frontline organisations should not be seen as the only option for cuts. Ways should be found to trim the administrative burden of the organisations that fund the third sector by cutting down on unnecessary bureaucracy.
Chairman, Cookstown and Magherafelt Volunteer Centre