Public services round-up: January 2018

The holidays may be behind us but the world of public services has started the year off with a bang – or was that a crunch?

Carillion and the £1.5bn question

The well-publicised collapse of construction firm Carillion with a £1.5bn ‘debt pile’ and a trail of vulnerable subcontractors has opened up a debate around the future of contracting out public services, the value of public-private partnerships, and the effect of a few large providers dominating the delivery landscape. The Public Affairs and Accounts Committee has consequently launched an inquiry into the outsourcing of public services, which NCVO will be responding to. While most charities will not be directly affected by the company’s collapse, the outcome of public debate on the issues it raises may lead to changes in the way government chooses to deliver some services – an emphasis on using a plurality of providers of different sizes would likely be beneficial to the voluntary sector.

Healthcare reform

Against a backdrop of fierce political debate over the future of the NHS’s funding, the King’s Fund have just published a new report, which has found community services are often fragmented and poorly co-ordinated, and are frequently not well integrated with other services in the community. The report proposes ways in which existing innovative work to improve community services, including social prescribing models, can be made more prevalent throughout the NHS. This would necessarily involve better engagement with voluntary organisations, although the main vehicles the report envisions for taking forward this work are STPs and ACSs – which to date haven’t got the best record for voluntary sector engagement.

If you want to read more about the social determinants of health (that many charities’ work will help achieve), NPC’s Keeping Us Well report has a good summary, and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing have just launched an evidence review on visual arts, mental health and wellbeing.

If you have a deeper interest in the health and care world, keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks for the first in a new series of news roundup blogs focusing specially on this area as part of our role on the Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

News you might have missed

We missed our usual December round-up supplement so here are some headlines to catch you up:

    • The government’s Civil Society Strategy development process is due to start next month, which will involve a wide-ranging consultation process with the sector, and we’ve heard it’s likely to focus in part on social value.
    • The government published its Industrial Strategy (PDF, 8.7MB), which has met with a mixed response. While there’s a focus on our ageing population, the strategy unfortunately makes no mention of the role of the voluntary sector and volunteering, which NCVO and others had emphasised in their responses.
    • Our EU specialist Brendan published his Brexit end of year review, with some interesting insights into what comes next for EU succession funding.



  • Locality published a report (PDF, 2MB) outlining how by commissioning local community organisations to provide local services, councils can build more resilient local economies, based on their work with six local areas.

NCVO Annual Conference

NCVO’s Annual Conference will be taking place in London on Monday 16 April. You can have a read of the full programme here – I’ll be running a workshop on when charities should think about getting into or out of public service delivery.


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Michael was our senior policy officer until January 2019, covering issues around charity tax and finance (including social investment) and the impact of the economy on the sector.

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