Public services news round-up: June 2016

This month, we look at the EU referendum, transforming rehabilitation, social value, and competition law. If you have any thoughts, comments or challenges then please leave a comment below or tweet us @ncvobeth or @ncvo.

EU referendum

Following the result of the EU referendum, charities have a vital role to play in restoring trust and kinship in Britain. In his latest blog post our chief executive, Sir Stuart Etherington, discusses how charities can bring communities together, empower people and bring hope, as well as the sector’s role in helping shape the future.

We are hosting a free online event on 7 July where charities can find out more about the implications of the EU referendum for the voluntary sector – register now.

We have also published a briefing on the implications of Brexit for the voluntary sector. This provides information about the political landscape, funding and finance, social implications, regulatory change and the role of civil society.

Transforming rehabilitation: Change and challenge

NCVO, in partnership with Clinks and the Third Sector Research Centre, have published our second report on the role of the voluntary sector in transforming rehabilitation. In Change and Challenge, we find that the community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS) should improve how they work with the voluntary sector.

The slow implementation of the transforming rehabilitation reforms is limiting investment in the sector, and voluntary organisations have been left feeling uncertain about the future due to limited communications from CRCs and the NPS. Voluntary sector involvement in CRC supply chains is limited, and those that are involved tend to be larger organisations. See Nick’s blog post for more details, or Clink’s blog to get their view.

The problem with payment-by-results

In a new blog post for NCVO, Kathy Evans from Children England and Toby Lowe from Newcastle University Business School explain why payment-by-results (PbR) causes perverse incentives that undermine providers’ efforts to provide effective services. It makes providers pursue simple, pre-agreed goals, which they can’t adapt to reflect the needs of individual service users. It also forces organisations to focus on producing data at the expense of providing services.

Local authorities and the Social Value Act

Social Enterprise UK have found that 33% of councils now routinely think about social value when commissioning, and are calling for legislative change to encourage more councils to use it. The report, Procuring for Good, found that 24% of councils have a social value policy, but that only 32% of district councils make little use of the Act. It calls for the Act to be strengthened because guidance on social value has had a limited impact. Echoing NCVO’s past recommendations, SEUK also suggests that commissioning and procurement teams need more training on applying the Act, and that evaluation of how councils use social value is necessary.

NCVO has long called for government to strengthen the Social Value Act, including extending the act to cover goods and works; requiring public bodies to ‘account’ for the social value they create; and removing reference to the EU procurement threshold. We have also called for government to publish statutory guidance around the Act, which would have more impact than the current, non-statutory guidance.

Competition law and collaboration

Voluntary organisations increasingly work together when bidding for public services. However, members have told us of concerns that such collaboration may breach competition law. While this is possible, it is unlikely if you take simple precautions.

In partnership with charity lawyers Bates Wells Braithwaite (BWB), we have published free new advice on how to work collaboratively within the law. In addition to a comprehensive legal paper from BWB, we’ve created a simplified step by step guide to help you determine whether your planned partnership work is allowed.

Six principles for engaging people and communities

The Five Year Forward View People and Communities Board, chaired by National Voices, has developed six principles which set out the basis of good person centred, community focused health and care.

  1. Care and support is person-centred: personalised, coordinated, and empowering.
  2. Services are created in partnership with citizens and communities.
  3. Focus is on equality and narrowing inequalities.
  4. Carers are identified, supported and involved.
  5. Voluntary, community and social enterprise and housing sectors are involved as key partners and enablers.
  6. Volunteering and social action are recognised as key enablers.

Public Services Conference

We are excited to announce the programme for our 2016 Public Services Conference, taking place this September. You can join us for a selection of expert-led, practical workshops, including:

  • Tips for successful bid-writing
  • New commissioning models
  • Managing risks in contracts and supply chains
  • Managing volunteers in public services
  • Improving you impact practice

We will also hold a panel debate on the future role of the sector in public services, and give you an opportunity to meet and build contacts with people from other organisations. We hope to see you there – you can book online today.

Determining ‘what works’ in local councils: The case for ‘street champions’ in Lambeth

The Institute of Fiscal Studies is holding a free event on 11 July 2016 to share findings from a two year project that is using randomised control trials to evaluate different ways of getting citizens involved in delivering public services.

The project, which is a collaboration with Lambeth Council, asked residents to volunteer to become a ‘street champion’ to coordinate efforts to improve their local environment. NCVO’s head of policy and public services, Charlotte Ravenscroft, will be there to give her view on the results.

This event will be of interest to policymakers and practitioners interested in understanding what works in local government and ways to promote greater levels of civic engagement by citizens.


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Bethan was NCVO’s trainee public services officer.

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