NCVO public services news round up June 2015

Our monthly round-up focusses 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

Payment by results

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a highly critical report on the government’s use of payments by results (PbR). The NAO found that without a central repository of knowledge and a strong evidence base to refer to, PbR schemes may be poorly designed and implemented and commissioners are in danger of ‘reinventing the wheel’ for each new scheme. The report highlights that small and medium-size charities find it harder to sustain themselves between intervention and payment. The NAO’s findings are very much in line with what our members have told us and we will continue to push commissioners to think extremely carefully before using such a complicated and poorly evidenced payment structure.

Redesigning the Work Programme

IPPR have published a new report, Alright for some?, setting out suggestions for improving the Work Programme. They recommend a split between services for those who are closest to the job market (broadly, those on JSA) and for those who are hardest to help (broadly, those on ESA), with the former being commissioned nationally (though with local authority input) and the latter locally. The report echoes NCVO’s own calls for a more localised approach as well as our criticism of the payment by results mechanism set out in Stepping Stones: The role of the voluntary sector in future welfare to work schemes.

Unite’s vision

Unite the union have published their vision for the voluntary and community sector. The report makes recommendations on the sectors’ relationship with the state, infrastructure, regulation, austerity, workforce and volunteering.

Role of volunteers in public services

Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) brought much discussion on the role of volunteers in public service provision and some controversy about whether their contribution should be increased. My colleague Matt Hill has looked at the research to try and answer the question of how many volunteers are currently involved in different areas of public services.

Cultural commissioning

My colleague Jessica Harris has written a fascinating article about how arts and cultural activities can contribute to improving health outcomes. This builds on findings from NCVO’s Cultural Commissioning Programme which is building stronger relationships between arts organisations and commissioners.

Consortium masterclass

Are you thinking about or in the early stages of setting up a consortium? This consortium masterclass will be an intensive day outlining what voluntary sector and social enterprise organisations need to consider when establishing consortia and the key determinants of success.


On Tuesday we are running a free webinar on how voluntary sector organisations can use data to support a commissioning case. The webinar will look at the newly released NCVO Civil Society Almanac and explain how the data can be mined and deployed when writing funding applications.

On 6 July NCVO is running a free webinar on social investment. This will provide voluntary organisations with information and advice on social investment, as one of the ways to develop new or existing activities that generate income.

Did you miss our webinar on engaging with police and crime commissioners? The webinar, summary and links to resources are now online.

Compact Awards 2015

Nominations for the Compact Awards 2015 are now open. Award winners will be chosen from groups, individuals, organisations and activities that demonstrate the very best of cross-sector partnership working. You can nominate yourself, another individual, a local Compact group or an organisation (both voluntary and community organisations and statutory bodies are eligible to enter). The deadline for nominations is Monday 14 September 2015.

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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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