Skip to main content

Delivering Public Services in the Mixed Economy of Welfare: Perspectives from the Voluntary and Community Sector in Rural England


The voluntary and community sector in England is playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of public services to older adults and in doing so they rely on unpaid volunteers. In this article, we draw on the findings of a recent qualitative study of the impact on the voluntary and community sector of delivering ‘low-level’ public services that promote independent living and wellbeing in old age. The fieldwork focused on services that help older adults aged 70+ living in remote rural communities across three English regions. Those charged with service delivery, which is increasingly the voluntary and community sector, face particular challenges, such as uncertain funding regimes and reliance on volunteer labour.

Hide All
Age Concern (2007), Stamped Out: Let's Make Rural Post Offices Work for Older People, London: Age Concern.
Age Concern/Help the Aged (2009), Prevention in Practice: Service Models, Methods and Impact, London: Age Concern, Help the Aged.
Alcock P., Brannelly T. and Ross L. (2004), Formality or Flexibility? Voluntary Sector Contracting in Social Care and Health, London: NCVO and Countryside Agency.
Asthana S., Halliday J. and Gibson A. (2009), ‘Social exclusion and social justice: a rural perspective on resource allocation’, Policy and Politics, 37: 2, 201–14.
Atterton J. (2008), ‘Demographics of the ageing rural population’, Working with Older People, 12: 3, 1922.
Audit Commission (2006), Best Value Indicators, 2005/6, London: Audit Commission.
Audit Commission (2007), Hearts and Minds: Commissioning from the Voluntary Sector, London: Audit Commission.
AVECO (2008), ‘Impact briefing: putting impact at the heart of the tendering process’,, accessed February 2009.
Baines S., Wilson R. and Hardill I. (2008), ‘How can voluntary organisations help to transform care? Articulating social value’, Paper presented at the Transforming Elder Care Conference, 26–28 June, Copenhagen (
Baldock J. and Hadlow J. (2002), ‘Housebound older people: the links between identity, self esteem and the use of care services’, Research Findings 4, Growing Older programme, Sheffield.
Beckford J. A. (1991), ‘Great Britain: voluntarism and sectional interests’, in Wuthnow R. (ed.), Between States and Markets: The Voluntary Sector in Comparative Perspective, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Billis D. and Glennerster H. (1998), ‘Human services and the voluntary sector: towards a theory of comparative advantage’, Journal of Social Policy, 27: 1, 7998.
Blackmore A. (2005), The Reform of Public Services: The Role of the Voluntary Sector, London: NCVO.
Champion T. and Shepherd J. (2006), ‘Demographic change in rural England’, in Lowe P. and Speakman L. (eds.), The Ageing Countryside: The Growing Older Population of Rural England, London: Age Concern England.
Charity Commission (2007), Stand and Deliver: The Future for Charities Providing Public Services, Liverpool: Charity Commission.
Clark H., Dyer S. and Horwood J. (1998), ‘That Bit of Help’: The High Value of Low Level Preventative Services for Older People, Bristol/York: Policy Press and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Clough R., Manthorpe J., Raymond V., Sumner K., Bright L. and Hay J.; OPRSI (Older People Researching Social Issues) (2007), The Support Older People Want and the Services They Need, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Craig G. and Manthorpe J. (2000), ‘Social care in rural areas: developing an agenda for research, policy and practice’, JRF Findings, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Craig G. (2004), ‘Citizenship, exclusion and older people’, Journal of Social Policy, 33: 1, 95115.
DEFRA (2003), ‘Community capacity building and voluntary sector infrastructure in rural England’, Rural Forum, 7: 7, June, London: DEFRA.
Department of Health (2005), Independence, Wellbeing and Choice: Our Vision for the Future of Adult Social Care, London: Department of Health.
Department of Health (2007), ‘Putting people first: a shared vision and commitment to the transformation of adult social care Ministerial Concordat’,, accessed 14 September 2009.
Department of Health (2008), The Case for Change – Why England needs a New Care and Support System, London: Department of Health.
Department of Health (2009), Shaping the Future of Care Together, Cm. 7673, London: TSO.
Dwyer P. and Hardill I. (2008), Older People and Village Services: Exploring the Impact on Community Based Services in Rural England, London: Age Concern.
Glendinning C., Challis D., Fernandez J.-L., Jacobs S., Jones K., Knapp M., Manthorpe J., Moran N., Netten A., Stevens M. and Wilberforce M. (2008), ‘Evaluation of the Individual Budgets pilot programme’, Final report, Social Policy Research Unit, University of York.
Hardill I. (2006), ‘“A place in the countryside”: migration and the construction of rural living’, in Lowe P. and Speakman L. (eds.), The Ageing Countryside: The Growing Older Population of Rural England, London: Age Concern England, pp. 5168.
Hardill I., Benneworth P., Baker M. W. and Budd L. C. (eds.) (2006), The Rise of the English Regions? Regions, Cities and Policy book series, London: Routledge.
Help the Aged/Age Concern (2005), Delivering for Older People in Rural Areas: A Good Practice Guide, London: Help the Aged/Age Concern England, Commission for Rural Communities, DEFRA.
HMG (2005), Opportunity Age: Meeting the Challenges of Ageing in the 21st Century, London: Department of Work and Pensions.
HMG (2009), Building a Society for all Ages, Cm 7655,, accessed 14 September 2009.
HM Treasury (2002), The Role of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Service Delivery: A Cross-Cutting Review, London: HMSO.
House of Commons (2006), Select Committee on Public Accounts: Thirty-second Report, London: HMSO.
Law A. and Mooney G. (2007), New Labour/Hard Labour? Restructuring and Resistance Inside the Welfare Industry, Bristol: The Policy Press.
Le Mesurier N. (2003), The Hidden Store: Older People's Contributions to Rural Communities, London: Age Concern.
Le Mesurier N. (2006), ‘The contributions of older people to rural community and citizenship’, in Lowe P. and Speakman L. (eds.), The Ageing Countryside: The Growing Older Population of Rural England, London: Age Concern England, pp. 133–46.
Lowe P. and Speakman L. (eds.) (2006), The Ageing Countryside: The Growing Older Population of Rural England, London: Age Concern.
Machin J. and Ellis Paine A. (2008), Management Matters: A National Survey of Volunteer Management Capacity, London: Institute for Volunteering Research.
Manthorpe J., Malin N. and Stubbs H. (2004), ‘Older people's views on rural life: a study of three villages’, International Journal of Older People Nursing in association with Journal of Clinical Nursing, 13: 6b, 97104.
Manthorpe J. and Stevens M. (2009), ‘Increasing care options in the countryside: developing an understanding of the potential impact of personalisation for social work with rural older people’, British Journal of Social Work, pre-publication online, 1–19.
Milne A., Hatzidimitriadou E. and Wiseman J. (2007), ‘Health and quality of life among older people in rural England: exploring the impact and efficacy of policy’, Journal of Social Policy, 36: 3, 477–95.
Murphy R., Wedlock E. and King J. (2005), ‘Early findings from the Home Office Citizenship Survey’, Home Office Online report 49/05,, accessed August 2008.
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) (2002), Supporting Rural Voluntary Action, London: NCVO Publications.
Osborne S. P. and McLaughlin K. (2004), ‘The cross-cutting review of the voluntary sector: where next for local government-voluntary sector relationships?’, Regional Studies, 38: 5, 571–80.
Paxton W., Pearce N., Unwin J. and Molyneux P. (2005), The Voluntary Sector Delivering Public Services: Transfer or Transformation?, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Raynes N., Clark H. and Beecham J. (2006), The Report of the Older People's Inquiry into ‘That Bit of Help’, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Reichardt O., Kane D., Pratten B. and Wilding K. (2008), The UK Civil Society Almanac 2008, London: NCVO.
Ritchie J., Spencer L. and O'Connor W. (2003), ‘Carrying our qualitative analysis’, in Ritchie J. and Lewis J. (eds.), Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers, London: Sage, pp. 219–62.
Scharf T. and Bartlam B. (2006), ‘Rural disadvantage: quality of life and disadvantage amongst older people’, a pilot study, Commission for Rural Communities, Cheltenham.
Sherwood K. and Lewis G. (2000), ‘Accessing health care in a rural area: an evaluation of a voluntary medical transport scheme in the English Midlands’, Health and Place, 6: 4, 337–50.
Wardell F., Lishman J. and Whalley L. (2000), ‘Who volunteers?’, British Journal of Social Work, 30: 2, 227–48.
Wenger C. G. (2001), ‘Myths and realities of ageing in rural Britain’, Ageing and Society, 21: 117–30.
Wilding K., Clark J., Griffith M., Jochum V. and Wainwright S. (2006), The UK Voluntary Sector Almanac: The State of the Sector, London: NVCO.
Williams C. (2003), ‘Developing community involvement: contrasting local and regional participatory cultures in Britain and their implications for policy’, Regional Studies, 37: 531–42.
Yeandle S. (2009), Telecare: A Crucial Opportunity to Help Save Our Health and Social Care System, London: The Bow Group.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 101 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 264 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.