Does your funding end in March?

If the answer is yes, read on – we want to help.

Charities listening to Wednesday’s Autumn Statement may have been pleasantly surprised: no raid on the Big Lottery Fund, new pots for military and women’s charities, sports, arts and heritage. Yet for the 25% of charities with grants or contracts from government – particularly those due to end next March – there was little by way of relief. We are concerned that a fair proportion of the sector’s current £13bn in grants and contracts could be at risk (see graph below).


Government departments and local authorities continue to face very tough financial settlements – as the LGA and NLGN have commented. At a local level, many are cutting back on non-statutory services and rolling up very large contracts for those services that remain.

Charities that deliver great services can find themselves unable to bid because of the size of these contracts or because the price they would have to bid at would compromise their quality or principles.

Our members tell us that they don’t want to paint anyone as the bogeyman. They understand the pressures facing local government and want to help them protect frontline services wherever possible. But many existing contracts are likely to be ending this March, so there is limited time to get the next stage of public service commissioning right.

What can you do?

Speak to your local councillors, commissioners and MPs urgently

Tell them about the impact of your organisation and the outcomes it can help deliver locally. Then tell them about any of the commissioning issues that you are facing and ask how you can help to address them – it may be that you can provide useful examples or attend a relevant meeting.

Join in the conversation on social media using #mycharitycanhelp – e.g. ‘#mycharitycanhelp elderly residents stay active and live independently in Essex @Essex_CC @halfon4harlowMP. Would you be interested in visiting us?’


Click here to tell NCVO if you have a government grant or contract that is due to end in March 2016.

You can tell us details or just hit send. We’ll use this information to help build a picture of what’s going on around the country and inform our influencing work. We’ll treat the name of your organisation confidentially if you’d like us to – just pop ‘confidential’ in the email.

What is NCVO doing to help?

We are writing to government today to emphasise that voluntary organisations are keen to help deliver high-quality efficient public services. Our key message is that charities are here to help and mobilise their communities – it would be crazy to shut them out inadvertently at a time when government funding and other resources are thin on the ground.

What will it take to change the current state of commissioning play? From all of our work on public services, the thing we’ve learnt is that it ultimately boils down to relationships. Building mutual understanding between politicians, public sector professionals and providers in their area – about what can be achieved, how best they can work together, and what will enable each to play their part.

NCVO has delivered successful training for charities and commissioners to do exactly this. Our Cabinet Office-funded ‘masterclasses’ for charities received outstanding reviews from participants who were supported to develop their business skills. While one organisation that took part in our in-depth consortia development programme tells us they are already in line to win a new £900k contract. Meanwhile we delivered ‘provider perspective days’ for the Commissioning Academy, helping build understanding of the sector and how to breakdown procurement barriers charities may face.

Only minimal investment in interventions of this type could leverage a major return. For example, the £80m allocated for Social Impact Bonds yesterday would have paid for every charity in the country to take part in a ‘masterclass’ style intervention, twice over. Using just a small fraction of this to reach those organisations most interested, at a local level, would probably make a bigger difference to public services than all the new SIBs put together.

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Charlotte Ravenscroft was NCVO’s head of policy and public services. Charlotte’s wrote about funding, public service delivery, and strengthening the evidence base for voluntary action. She has also worked at The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Education.

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