11 February 2015

The Panel publishes its fourth and final annual assessment – press release here.  Here’s what the  Chair of the Panel, Sir Roger Singleton CBE, says about it in the Guardian as well as Third Sector and Civil Society coverage and a blog by David Ainsworth.

21 January 2014

Panel publishes its third annual assessment.  For the press release, click here.  Read Sir Roger Singleton’s commentary on the report, published by the Guardian, and Third Sector’s editorial.

4 November 2013

Sir Roger Singleton and Caroline Slocock visited Exeter to hear first hand about the experiences of organisations in the South West.  For the South West Forum’s note of the discussion, click here.

9 October 2013

The Panel heard compelling evidence today from a range of witnesses about the negative impact on independence of the Lobbying Bill and of proposed changes to the judicial review process.  It has issued a statement calling for the Government to delay its changes to Part 2 of the Bill to allow time for proper consultation and discussion.   To read the press release, click here.

11 June 2013

The Panel heard evidence from a range of organisations at an open session.  Third Sector news picked up evidence on the Work Programme and on threats to the advocacy role of the sector.  Further details of what was said will follow but,  in the meantime, here is written evidence from the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

24th April 2013

Sir Roger Singleton visited Involve Yorks and Humber and talked to a group of voluntary organisations about the challenges they are facing and their ideas for protecting independence.  To read a note of the meeting, click here.

22nd January 2013

The Panel publishes its second annual assessment, Independence Under Threat: the Voluntary Sector in 2013.  To read the press release, click here.

November 2012

Open evidence session, 3rd October – evidence published.

26th September 2012

Open evidence session, 3 October 2012: Independence Panel opens its doors to shape next phase of inquiry

Members of the public and media are invited to an open evidence session focusing on larger organisations and infrastructure bodies.  See the full release including details of how to book a place.

July 16th 2012

Sir Roger Singleton is new Chair of Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector

Former Chief Executive of Barnado’s and Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority warns of the risks to independence.

Sir Roger Singleton, appointed as the new Chair of the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, today warned of the risks to independence of the sector and said that the Panel was hoping to see evidence of improvement over the course of this year.

The Panel was established in 2011 to ensure that independence is seen as a top priority by the voluntary sector. Its first annual report in January 2012, Protecting Independence: the Voluntary Sector in 2012, identified “real and present risks to the independence and voice of the voluntary sector” and said that “decisive action” will need to be taken around six particular challenges – from statutory funding and the way that public services are commissioned to the risk of self-censorship and challenges to the sector’s independence of voice. The Panel will continue to take views from voluntary organisations and others over the course of the year, and will be producing a second assessment early next year.

Sir Roger was chief executive of Barnado’s for 21 years, and was awarded a knighthood in 2005 for services to children. He is currently Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority. He is a trained mediator, and also a former chair of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations. Sir Roger succeeds Dame Anne Owers, who chaired the Panel for its inaugural year of operation, and who remains a member of the Panel.

Commenting on his appointment, Sir Roger said

“As someone who has worked for much of my career for organisations which provide services to and advocate for vulnerable groups, I am acutely aware of the vital need for voluntary sector organisations to maintain their independence.

“Independence ensures that organisations are not deflected from their first duty, which is to the beneficiaries or causes they serve.  This is essential not just for their beneficiaries – particularly those who are most disadvantaged and may depend on their services – but also for maintaining public trust and support in voluntary sector institutions.

“At a time of austerity, there is a danger that independence is overlooked in the battle for survival, even though that is when it is needed most.  The Panel’s first report identified real and present risks to independence of purpose, voice and action.  Over this year, we will be reviewing the latest evidence, as well as hearing first hand from those affected, and I very much hope we will see some signs of improvement by the time of our second report in early 2012.”

Welcoming Sir Roger, David Cutler, Director of the Baring Foundation, which funds the Panel, said:

“We are delighted that Sir Roger has agreed to Chair the Panel, taking over from the excellent work of Dame Anne Owers who chaired the Panel in its first year. He brings a wealth of experience from within the voluntary sector as well as an understanding of how government and local government operate. He will be a tremendous asset to the Panel, and will help them to build in the years ahead on the strong foundations of their first report.

“We are also very pleased that Dame Anne Owers, who has stepped aside as Chair having taken up a new role as Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Authority, has kindly agreed to remain a member of the Panel.”

Sir Roger will start his role as Panel Chair with immediate effect.

The Panel was established in 2011 to provide a series of annual reviews of the independence of the sector.


May 22nd 2012

A note of the key points made to the Panel by those giving evidence at its open session on 26th April is available here. The session was also reported in Third Sector , with a second article  here.  Third Sector’s editorial also reflected on some points raised by  the session.

April 26th 2012

The Independence Panel to hold open evidence gathering session in central London.

To read the press release click here

March 21st, 2012

Sir Bert Massie gives a speech on independence to the AGM of Regional Action West Midlands.  Here’s the text of “Independent Thought, Independent Voice.”

January 9th 2012

The Independence Panel publishes the first of five annual assessments, Protecting Independence: the Voluntary Sector in 2012, today.

To read the press release, click here.  Dame Anne Owers also wrote a comment piece in the Guardian.

July 14th 2011

The Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector today publishes its first consultation report.  To read the press release click here.   The full consultation report can be found  here.  An article about the consultation by the then Chair of the Panel, Dame Anne Owers, can be found  here.  To find out more about who responded, click here.

July 7th 2011

Read the piece on the Independence Panel by John Plummer in Third Sector.

July 2011

The Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector established by the Baring Foundation

A new Panel has been established to look at independence in the voluntary sector.  Funded by the Baring Foundation, the Panel will consult widely and produce a series of reports and recommendations aimed at supporting and sustaining the most effective environment for voluntary activity.

The Panel will review the best available evidence and deploy its own expertise in reaching a judgement on the state of independence.  Where necessary, it will make recommendations to government, the voluntary sector and others to strengthen independence and to improve the evidence base.

The Panel will issue its first statement in the late 2011 and will make an annual statement over the following four years. To help achieve its aims, it will engage others in discussion, including leaders, funders, opinion formers and the public, and will aim to disseminate its annual statement to a wide audience, including front-line voluntary organizations, infrastructure bodies, politicians, funders including charitable trusts, policy-makers and academics.

To find out more about the Panel, click here.