NCVO public services news round-up April 2015

Our monthly round-up focuses on the most interesting stories related to the voluntary sector and public services from the last month. If you have any thoughts, questions, or challenges then please leave a comment below, or tweet us: @NCVO @NJ_Davies

Public service transparency

Over the past few months NCVO has been feeding into Institute for Government work on the development of a standardised transparency clause that could be included in government contracts. They’ve now published a final report which is a decent step in the right direction. However, we believe that such a clause should go further. My colleague Ruth has explained why and how in a blog post.

Transparency was also a feature of the recently-released party manifestos, with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats proposing to extend the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to those delivering outsourced public services. In the coming months we’ll be consulting with our membership on this important issue, so watch this space.

In the meantime, if you have strong views about transparency then I would recommend submitting ideas to the Open Government Manifesto. This is being produced by the UK Open Government Civil Society Network. NCVO belongs to this group of organisations and individuals, working with and challenging government in the UK to implement robust reforms, as a member of the Open Government Partnership. You can receive regular updates about this process by signing up to the UK Open Government Forum.

Manifesto destiny

Amidst the awkward photo shoots, contradictory polls, and public apathy of this election campaign, last week actually saw a focus on policy with the publication of the party manifestos.  They are, unsurprisingly, a mixed bag, though there is broad support for the role of the voluntary sector in public services. My colleague Aiden has summarised what the manifestos mean for charities and we’ve responded individually to the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos.

An opportunity to influence commissioners

NCVO is seeking senior colleagues from our member organisations to take part in the ‘Provider Perspective Day’ of the Cabinet Office’s flagship development programme, the Commissioning Academy, on 27 May and 8 July 2015 (two different groups) in central London.

The aim of the Academy is to support public service commissioners to be able to work with providers more effectively to transform and deliver public services. We see this as an invaluable opportunity for NCVO members to influence a key audience: commissioners.

We will be running a number of roundtable sessions. These will be on specific themes such as social value, finance models, and private/voluntary sector collaborations. We would like our members to come along and facilitate a discussion on a topic that they are particularly interested in and have experience in. Approximately 90-100 public service commissioners will be attending the event. We are particularly keen this time to invite members with experience of contracting with central government departments.

We are able to reimburse travel expenses for any guest speakers taking part. Please express your interest by emailing

We need your knowledge – and can pay for it!

NCVO has some funding to upgrade our web resources on commissioning. We are keen to gather best practice from around the sector and we want you to write either a case study, guidance, or a blog post on various public services related issues such as co-design, influencing commissioners, payment by results, collaboration, and decommissioning. Please express your interest by emailing

 Join us at Evolve

On Monday 15 June in London, over 500 voluntary sector leaders will be coming together at Evolve 2015 to share ideas, learn from each other, and connect with specialists, during a day of expert-led workshops and plenary discussions. One of these workshops will provide practical advice on delivering public services as a subcontractor. We’re bringing together both prime and subcontractors to discuss their experiences of working as part of a supply chain. By exploring the advantages of being a subcontractor, as well as some the risks involved, this workshop will help you weigh-up whether subcontracting is right for your organisation. Book your place now.

Bevan Prize – call for nominations

The Bevan Prize recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of health and wellbeing in the UK, while also embodying the founding principles of the NHS. If you know an individual or organisation that fits the bill then submit your nomination before the deadline of 5pm on 11 May 2015.

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Avatar photo Nick was NCVO's public services manager until March 2017. He is also a trustee of the South London Relief in Sickness Fund.

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