NCVO public services news round up – November 2015

Welcome to November’s public services news round up. This month I’ve looked at the Spending Review, Community Life Survey, social investment and new models of public service delivery. If you have any thoughts, questions or challenges then please leave a comment below or tweet us @NCVO @NJ_Davies

Spending review

Thanks to a £27bn forecasting windfall, the Spending Review was not as brutal as most had expected. We were particularly pleased at the u-turn on tax credits and the cancelling of plans to raid the Big Lottery Fund (my colleague Michael has written a summary of the key announcements). It would be wrong, however, to think that this is the end of austerity. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies this “spending review is still one of the tightest in post war history”.

Public service spending, particularly that of local authorities, is going to be squeezed significantly which will inevitably have implications for the 25% of the voluntary sector which receive government funding. Many organisations have contracts and grants which end in March 2016. Protecting this funding means acting now. Charlotte has written about what you can do locally and what we are doing nationally. Join in the conversation on social media using #mycharitycanhelp.

Those looking for relevant background reading on the shape and size of government may also find of interest the Institute for Government’s Whitehall Monitor, which beautifully visualises data from and about government, and a report released by the TUC which considers public spending changes over time, sets these in an international context and analyses key policies since 2010.

Government asking for views on the Community Life Survey

As many of you know, the Community Life Survey is the best source of data we have on rates of volunteering in this country. It’s used by countless organisations to track what’s happening to volunteering at the national and regional level (the data goes right back to 2001) as well as other ways people engage in their communities. The government is proposing to make some changes, including moving from face-to-face interviews to an online survey. They want to know what you think about this and how you use the results from the survey. To do this, they’re running a public consultation, to which anyone can respond, and we would really encourage you to feed in. You don’t need to be a technical whizz to respond (although if you are please do!) as the government is really keen to know why you feel the survey is important and how you use the data in your work. You can find out more and respond here – even a short response will be incredibly helpful for informing the government on the best way forward. The consultation closes on the 2 January.

Thinking about social investment?

NCVO has a wealth of support to help you understand the basics of social finance, decide if it’s right for your organisation, win funding to help you become ‘investment ready’ and finally acquiring and structuring a deal:

Joining up public services

The Institute for Government have released a fascinating report on government attempts to join up local public services since 1997. It identifies five perennial barriers that repeatedly get in the way and ten insights on how to overcome these, drawing on several case studies of successful examples. If you don’t have time to read the full report then they’ve produced a brilliant one page timeline of the key programmes and a map illustrating how local public services feel from a citizen’s perspective.

Remaking the state

ACEVO has published a new report, Remaking the State, which makes a number of recommendations for improving public services. There are three main strands. Firstly, it argues that government should focus more on prevention, increasing early intervention spend to 5% of overall public spending. Secondly, public service markets should be improved through a new Industry Standard Partnering Agreement and ‘Community First’ programme. Finally, public service standards could be better upheld through the development of a public services constitution and new power of ‘super-complaint’ that would allow specified organisations (e.g. Citizen’s Advice) to lodge complaint to a third party, such as the Public Services Ombudsman, on behalf of public service users.

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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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