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Modernising Commissioning: Increasing the role of charities, social enterprises, mutuals and cooperatives in public service deli

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http://download.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/green-paper/commissioning-green-pap...<

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, has today published the Modernising Commissioning Green Paper< [PDF 256KB, 27 pages] which asks for views on how the Government can create a level playing field for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises that want to bid for public service contracts. 

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society said:

“Public services must make better use of tax-payer’s money. We need smarter commissioning processes that take into account the social and environmental impact of organisations awarded contracts. Good performance in these areas can take pressure off other public services and so create efficiencies across the board. This is part of a Big Society approach that will form the core of the Public Service Reform White Paper next year.”

The Modernising Commissioning Green Paper seeks views on four key questions and outlines the Government’s current plans for discussion:

  1. In which public service areas could government create new opportunities for civil society organisations to deliver?

    • Introducing payment by results – so payment is linked to outcomes not inputs;
    • Setting proportions of specific services that should be delivered by independent organisations; and
    • Introducing new rights for communities to run services.
  2. How could government make existing public service markets more accessible to civil society organisations?

    • Cut away unnecessary red tape by streamlining procurement processes;
    • Improve transparency of public procurement opportunities;
    • Address ways to manage the short term movement towards large centralised contracts and move to a decentralised approach in the longer term;
    • Launch a contract finder service, a free facility for small organisations to find procurement and sub-contracting opportunities all in one place.
  3. How could commissioners use assessments of full social, environmental and economic value to inform their commissioning decisions?

    • Encourage understanding of social and environmental priorities of local people to be considered in the commissioning process; and
    • Support the ‘Social enterprise and Social Value’ Bill which would require the recognition of ‘full value’ as part of mainstream commissioning practice.
  4. How could civil society organisations support greater citizen and community involvement in all stages of commissioning?

    • Develop a new package of support to enable local civil society organisations and state partners strengthen working relationships;
    • Extend the planned ‘right to challenge’ to public services; and
    • Roll out ‘Community Budgets’ which pool funding for local services giving more flexibility to meet local priorities and a joined up approach across the board.

The Green Paper follows the commitment in the Coalition Agreement to develop new opportunities for civil society organisations in public service delivery. The consultation will close on 5 January and the results will feed into a Public Service Reform White Paper to be published shortly afterwards.

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/101207-green...<

Could also refer http://benefits.tcell.org.uk/forums/good-practice-guide-practitioners-su...<

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Projects that benefit local communities and the voluntary sector in England have received a boost, after a new policy direction was issued by Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose to the Big Lottery Fund today.

The direction requires the Big Lottery Fund to focus its funding in England on projects that support the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and follows the recent changes to increase the share of lottery funding going to arts, heritage and sport.

John Penrose said:

“Protecting lottery funding for these types of projects is an important way of building and maintaining the kind of voluntary and community action that is an integral part of the Big Society. Along with the recent share change it also marks a return to the lottery’s original good causes, ensuring projects that would otherwise not have been possible can go ahead with the help of a lottery grant. The Big Lottery Fund have already done great work in raising the amount of money that goes to this particular sector and I hope that this will now increase even further.”

While it is for Big Lottery Fund, to decide which projects to fund, John Penrose has made clear he sees no reason why the direction should inhibit its ability to fund charities, voluntary groups, social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations working in consortia with local authorities, veterans, parish councils or community projects in schools.  The direction applies to England only and does not apply to the devolved administrations.

Notes to Editors

  1. John Penrose has issued the policy direction under Section 36E of the National Lottery Act 1993, requiring the Big Lottery Fund to take into account the need to ensure that, in England, money is distributed to projects that benefit people and local communities served by the voluntary and community sector.
     
  2. Issuing the policy direction meets the commitment in the DCMS Structural Reform Plan that the Big Lottery Fund is reformed so that only voluntary and community sector projects are funded.
     
  3. The policy direction should not impact on existing award holders.
     
  4. Responses to a public consultation on this matter have been published and can be found on the DCMS website<.

http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/media_releases/7627.aspx<

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Revolutionary new rights for communities will protect and transform local services

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today announced a package of powerful new rights for communities to challenge services and preserve local assets.

The new Community Rights measures are yet another leap towards localism and the decentralisation of power from Whitehall.

The Localism Bill, due to be announced on Monday (13 December), will enshrine in law rights for community and voluntary groups to draw on when determining what happens in their local area.

They are:

  • Community Right to Buy. Local groups will have a legal right to nominate any vital community asset including local shops, pubs, libraries and leisure centres to be assessed for recording on a 'most wanted' list by the local council. If a listed asset goes on the open market, its sale will be delayed triggering a 'community countdown' that will give people time to prepare their business plan and raise the funds they need to bid.
  • Community Right to Challenge. Opening the door to a transformation in the way that local public services are run, Right to Challenge gives community or voluntary sector groups, as well as parish councils and council employees delivering the service, new powers to challenge and take over a local service. This could include running children's centres, social care services and even improving local transport links. Under the new law, councils must respond to this challenge and consider the positive impact the proposal could have on the community. If the proposal is turned down the council must publish the reasons for this. This new right puts voluntary and charity groups on the front foot when it comes to running public services and has the potential to open up new revenue for them.

Last week, Mr Pickles announced new rights for communities to shape the development of the communities in which they live, through the creation of neighbourhood plans. The Localism Bill will radically reform the planning system so local people have a greater say and influence over what their home town will look like in the future.
 
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, said:

"This powerful series of measures puts new rights in law for people to protect, improve and even run important frontline services. For too long people have been powerless to intervene as vital community resources disappear from their areas. The Community Rights measures will put control back where it belongs - with the people at the heart of our villages, towns and cities.

"The Rights are also a massive opportunity for the community and voluntary sector to demonstrate their innovation and the new ideas they can bring to the table for better, cost effective services."

Local facilities have been closing down all over the country, leaving towns and villages without vital amenities. Small community groups that are willing to take over local assets often find that they lack the time and resources to get a plan together and compete with the might and muscle of big business and developers, who can throw significant time and resource behind projects.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark, added:

"Voluntary and community groups already successfully provide services including education, social care and tackling worklessness. But there are many more groups who have been locked out or passed over in favour of the same old way of doing things. The government wants to see councils making the most of the talents and ingenuity of these organisations and this new measure will make sure that good ideas get a proper hearing.

"The new rights intend to level the playing field and make it easier for voluntary groups to move from the sidelines to centre stage when it comes to delivering services as part of the Big Society".

The Right to Challenge legislation gives voluntary, community and charitable groups, as well social enterprises, parish councils and local authority employees, the legal right to express an interest to run a service. Councils must respond to these challenges and consider the positive impact the proposal could have on the community. Councils can then put the proposals to the test about how the service would work. 

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell, said:

"These groundbreaking measures puts communities at the heart of decision making for protecting vital frontline services and puts them on the front foot for putting in an offer if they come up for closure."

Notes to editors

1. For examples of community groups and civic societies who have already taken action in their local areas, please contact the DCLG press office.

2. These measures will be included in the Localism Bill, due to be announced on Monday 13 December. Further details on the measures will be set out in secondary legislation.

3. The Community Right to Buy will require local authorities to maintain a list of sites of community value put forward for consideration by communities. The local authority will assess the suggestions before recording on the list. When listed land comes up for disposal (either the freehold or a long leasehold), communities will be given the chance to develop a bid and raise the capital to buy the asset.  They will then be in a better position to bid to buy the asset when it comes on the market at the end of the moratorium.

4. This will help local communities to save sites which are important to the community, which will contribute to tackling social need and building up resources in their neighbourhood. The Bill will provide the framework for the Right, the detail of which will be set out in secondary legislation, and subject to public consultation in the new year.

5. The Community Right to Challenge will enable voluntary, community and charitable groups, as well social enterprises, mutuals, co-operatives, parish councils and local authority employees looking to deliver the service as a new employee-led organisation, to express an interest in running a local authority service. This may trigger a procurement exercise for the service in which the challenging organisation can participate alongside other bidders.

6. The measure includes a minimum period (to be set out in secondary legislation) between an expression of interest being accepted and a procurement exercise starting. This will enable public sector workers, where they are not the challengers, to decide whether they want to bid to run the service, and to organise themselves to do this. This should also assist smaller and new voluntary sector organisations. We are also proposing that we require local authorities to consider the relevant and proportionate social impacts of both expressions of interest and bids.

7. These measures ensure that the right to challenge better supports the Government's work on public sector workers and its objectives to increase the involvement of the voluntary sector in delivering public services.

8. The local authority will need to publish its response to the expression of interest and set out reasons where it decides not to take a proposal forward. This will ensure that decision making is transparent and the council is accountable to local people for its decision.

9. Right to Challenge follows from the Right to Provide announcement by the Cabinet Office on Wednesday 17 November. Right to Provide means that public service employers will be expected to accept suitable proposals from front line staff who want to take over and run their services as mutual organisations. www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/101117-staffmutuals.aspx< (external link).

10. The Government will introduce a new right for communities to shape their local areas by creating neighbourhood plans, and introduce powerful new incentives to encourage local communities to approve sustainable development. The new neighbourhood plans will be flexible so communities will be able to determine the issues or areas to cover and what level of detail they want to go into. www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1788714<.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/localgovernment/1794159<

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Six essential actions to create a new decentralised Britain where power once again belongs to the people, have been set out today by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark.

The Coalition Government believes in a radical shift of power from the centre to citizens and communities, giving control and freedom back to people to manage their own lives as they see fit.

The Localism Bill, which begins its passage through parliament today, will provide the legislative foundation for putting power back into the hands of communities. But it will also require fundamental changes in the way government works at every level.

To achieve and maintain the radical shift in power, the Government has published  Decentralisation and the Localism Bill: an essential guide. Its sets out six actions central government will need to take to do things differently - in behaviour, expectation, and culture, which must go alongside the changes in law proposed in the Bill.

They are to:

  • Lift the burden of bureaucracy - by removing the cost and control of unnecessary red tape and regulation, whose effect is to restrict local action;
  • Empower communities to do things their way - by creating rights for people to get involved with, and direct the development of, their communities;
  • Increase local control of public finance - so that more of the decisions over how public money is spent and raised can be taken within communities;
  • Diversify the supply of public services - by ending public sector monopolies, ensuring a level-playing field for all suppliers, giving people more choice and a better standard of service;
  • Open up government to public scrutiny - by releasing government information into the public domain, so that people can know how their money is spent, how it is used and to what effect; and
  • Strengthen accountability to local people - by giving every citizen the power to change the services provided to them through participation, choice or the ballot box.

Nick Clegg said:

"The Coalition Government is different from governments that have gone before. It is different by its very nature: two parties coming together in the national interest marked a watershed in our politics. But the Coalition is different in its approach, too. Because instead of taking more power for the Government, the Localism Bill will give power away. This Bill, as this guide sets out, marks the beginning of a power shift away from central government to the people, families and communities of Britain."

Greg Clark said:

"Britain has become one of the most centralised countries and it hasn't worked. Our public services have suffered because of bureaucratic micro-management by the centre, and public trust in our democratic institutions has been undermined, with people feeling they have little or no control.

"The Coalition Government is determined to redress the balance through a radical shift of power from the centre to citizens and communities. The actions in this guide, embodied in the Localism Bill, will drive our commitment to decentralise power across every department and every level of government - and return power to the people to whom it rightfully belongs."

Notes to editors

1. Decentralisation and the Localism Bill: an essential guide is available at  www.communities.gov.uk/decentralisationguide<.

2. Greg Clark has been appointed by the Prime Minister to work across all Government departments to deliver the decentralisation agenda. 

3.This guide is being published in advance of a progress report on decentralisation to the Prime Minister next year. It is not a formal consultation but any comments are welcome and should be emailed to: decentralisation@communities.gsi.gov.uk<.

4. The Localism Bill, laid before Parliament today, contains a radical package of reforms that will devolve greater power and freedoms to councils and neighbourhoods, establish powerful new rights for communities, revolutionise the planning system, and give communities control over housing decisions.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/localgovernment/1794678<

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Strength in Numbers

Small charities' experience of working together

The Charity Commission is the independent regulator for charitable activity. This is one of a series of reports that draws upon independent research that we have commissioned, as well as our own internal data, knowledge and experience of working with charities.

The purpose of these reports is to help increase understanding of an issue. They are part of our mission to help charities maximise and comply with their legal obligations, to encourage innovation within the charitable sector and enhance effectiveness.

You can also view a colour PDF version of Strength in numbers (RS24)<

Contents

For more details http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Publications/rs24.aspx<

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New report explores how to sustain and increase charity funding for the future

Increasing individual giving to £20 billion by 2020 is one of the key objectives put forward by a new report which explores how to ensure charities' financial sustainability over the next ten years.
 
Funding the Future (PDF, 3.68Mb) offers a ten-year framework for how the voluntary and community sector can stay financially resilient when faced with depleted resources coupled with increasing demand for services.  It sets out clear recommendations for civil society organisations (CSOs), funders and commissioners, infrastructure bodies and the government to bolster all income streams for the sector, including individual giving, trading income, grants, public sector contracts and private investment.

It suggests that individual giving can be increased from £11.3 billion to £20 billion by 2020 through increased donor engagement, better fundraising approaches and via a 'Better Asking' Campaign, developed by NCVO in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and other sector bodies.

The report also explores how to increase the share and quality of public sector contracts for CSOs, increase trading income and commercial sector support and attract more private sector investment.

Funding the Future is the final report of our Funding Commission, which began work in February 2009.  The Commission was set up to respond to the sector’s concerns and uncertainty about funding over the next ten years and to set a new funding agenda.

Fiona Ellis, Chair of the Funding Commission, said:

"Funding the Future sets out the financial architecture required to ensure a healthy civil society.  The recommendations may be ambitious, but it is critical that everyone involved works together to realise them as fully as possible.  In the challenging times ahead, charities will need to ensure they have a financial safety net so that they can continue to deliver vital services where they are needed most."

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, said:

"NCVO is committed to taking forward the Funding Commission's recommendations.  Now is the time to recognise that civil society organisations are more important than ever and take the steps required to ensure that they can play their role to the full."

http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/news/funding/new-report-explores-how-sustain-...

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Government, Voluntary and Community sector agree new Compact for working in partnership

Downloads

The Compact Accountability Guide<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 195.73 kB<
The Compact<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 286.64 kB<
Statement of Support form leading sector organisations<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 104.52 kB<
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Big Society strategy to support charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises.

Downloads

Building a Stronger Civil Society - A strategy for voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 182.32 kB<
The consultation, Supporting a Stronger Civil Society <
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 266.20 kB<
Open letter to the sector from Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society<
File type: PDF - Portable Document format | File size: 112.82 kB<
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"The Funding Commission was set up by NCVO in February 2009 to respond to the sector's concerns and uncertainty about funding over the next 10 years and to set a new funding agenda. Our report, launched on 6 December 2010, contains 12 recommendations directed at the sector itself, funders, NCVO and government.

Whilst taking full account of the current financial context, we have also looked at the opportunities that lie ahead. Taking a 10 year perspective we see potential for growth in individual giving, social investment, commercial sector donations and trading, but we also call for the sector itself to step up to the mark and increase its impact, develop its financial capability and collaborate more effectively.

Its recommendations include:

  • a Better Asking Campaign, to improve the quality and effectiveness of fundraising, particularly by smaller and local organisations, with the aim of increasing giving by almost £9 billion in the next 10 years;
  • the development of new financial products, such as Social Gilts or Social Investment Bonds, to increase private investment in civil society by £10 billion over the next ten years; and
  • initiatives to enable civil society organisations to become more entrepreneurial, increasing trading income by £1.7 billion over the next 10 years.


We look forward to NCVO and the other leading sector infrastructure bodies taking forward the agenda we have set out in our report. Now is the time to be planning for a better and more sustainable future for civil society organisations."

Fiona Ellis, Chair Funding Commission

Download Funding the Future - Full Report< (PDF 3.68MB)                                         
Download Funding the Future - Summary Report< (PDF 2.10MB)

Background papers

1. Capitalisation and social investment< (PDF 95KB)
2. Trading< (PDF 87KB)
3. Effectiveness< (PDF 115KB)
4. Public sector funding< (PDF 77KB)
5. National Lottery< (PDF 24KB)
6. Trusts and Foundations< (PDF 89KB)
7. Individual giving< (PDF 129KB)
8. Commercial sector support< (PDF 63KB)

Commissioned papers

Think piece:
David Carrington, Funding our Future: challenges and opportunities in the next decade<, January 2009 (PDF 507KB)

Capitalisation and social investment:
- Joe Ludlow, Capitalising the Voluntary and Community Sector: a review<, March 2010 (PDF 548KB)
- Joe Ludlow, Capital, Capacity Building and Impact<, March 2010 (PDF 69KB)
- Nick Wilkie and others, Unclaimed assets: funding for young people and social investment<, London Youth, April 2010 (PDF 133KB)

Effectiveness:
- Professor Peter Wells and Dr Chris Dayson, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, Measuring the Impact of Third Sector Infrastructure Organisations<, June 2010 (PDF 134KB)
- Esther Ridsdale, NCVO Collaboration Team, Collaboration and Merger Case Studies<, June 2010 (PDF 64KB)
- Stephen Quashie, NCVO Valuing Infrastructure Project, Boosting Local Effectiveness: the future funding of infrastructure support<, June 2010 (PDF 655KB) 
- Bill Freeman, Director of Consultancy Services, NAVCA, Future Local Infrastructure Scenarios<, August 2010 (PDF 498KB)

Public-sector funding:
- Sarah Flood, The Government Funding Relationship: Its impact on the sector and future challenges and opportunities<, March 2010 (PDF 127KB)

Individual giving:
- Joe Saxton and Michele Maddon, nfpSynergy, How Can the New Government Increase the Size of the Fundraising Cake?<, May 2010 (PDF 152KB) 
- Guy Yeomans, ICT Trends and Fundraising: Five-Year Perspective<, May 2010 (PDF 68KB)
- Richard Gutch, Prospectus, Fundraising Director Interviews<, May 2010 (PDF 32KB)
- Katherine William-Powlett, NCVO Sustainable Funding project, Innovation in Fundraising<, June 2010 (PDF 149KB)
- Dr Beth Breeze, Donor Centred Philanthropy: Putting Givers at the Heart of the Charity Universe<, July 2010 (PDF 36KB) 
- Guy Yeomans, Data Growth<, August 2010 (PDF 119KB)

Website Annexes
1. Data sources< (PDF 8KB) 
2. Future scenarios< (PDF 14KB) 
3. Initiatives to promote giving< (PDF 13KB) 
4. Fundraising – regulation and tax< (PDF 32KB)
5. Commercial giving – tax and fiscal incentives< (PDF 7KB)

http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/fundingcommission<

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Benefiting everyone - commissioning, community organisations and collaboration

'Benefiting everyone' is aimed at public sector commissioners. Our message to them is clear: that community groups can add huge value to public service delivery and can help commissioners meet their targets.

By collaborating to bid for contracts, community organisations can offer massive savings and deliver the services that are needed by the communities they work with. Communtiy groups know their local communities well and are perfectly placed to respond to local need and strengthen local communities.

Produced by:

bassac

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Tags:

bidding, co-design, collaborate for commissioning, collaboration, commissioning, consortia

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Programme:

Collaboration

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Audience:

Community organisations, Policy makers, Support / infrastructure organisations

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Type:

Policy analysis

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NCVO has responded to the Cabinet Office Green Paper on the future of commissioning.  We will be submitting more detailed evidence to the forthcoming Public Services White Paper in the New Year and will be seeking views from members as part of that process.  Download the response< (PDF78KB).

http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/networking-discussions/blogs/18452/10/12/21/r...<

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Pensions and the inability of charities to reclaim VAT – two key obstacles standing in the way of social enterprise. Even if they can be overcome, organisations must find new ways of delivering services rather than simply changing the name over the door. Rory Baxter reports from the recent Public Servant annual conference

The social enterprise sector has been ready for lift-off for an awful long time but it will never take flight fully until the government removes the barriers that prevent this from happening, Dr Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive of ACEVO, told delegates at the 2010 Public Servant annual conference.

In the session Is the Co-operative and Social Enterprise Balloon Ready for Lift-off?, sponsored by Bridging to the Future, Kyle said that the social enterprise sector was a mature way of delivering public services. When the coalition government came into power there was immediate talk about the role of social enterprises, with the aim of creating the biggest number of social enterprises and co-operatives in the world. The coalition promised "we will empower millions of public sector workers to become their own boss and to help deliver better services".

This unfortunately bred a lot of cynicism within the sector, Kyle said, with that level of hyperbole making people who work in social enterprises question whether the government was really capable of delivering on such a scale. Indeed, did they really know what it was to work in this sector?

"I don't want to be cynical or negative about it," Kyle said, "because it is great that we have a government that wants to be this ambitious. But it is going to be really tough for them to deliver on this promise."

Kyle said that the two main barriers to organisations moving out of the statutory sector into a new social enterprise model were pensions and VAT. There was a real danger that a two-tier workforce could develop in the sector in terms of pension rates and this could be a real problem because co-operatives would have to suppress one set of pension payments in order to supplement the other so that they were competitive as an organisation. The problem with VAT was that because charities can't claim it back they will go into 2011 with "a 20 per cent challenge to all their costings".

Kyle went on to say that the new breed of social enterprises must be managed in the right way – that means not just changing the name over the office door and carrying on as before, which can be a very strong temptation.

"Organisations can set up social enterprises without fully understanding what it entails but do it because the government wants it to happen. They can feel they are being pushed in a certain direction, they take advantage of the incentives on offer and they literally change the name over the door – but they haven't changed the culture that underlines it.

"Organisations that go down this route have got to understand that by making this change within their own organisation, by definition they are going to be changing the way they provide services. They are going to have to work with service users in a different way. And they are going to have to have a different relationship with other organisations that are also working within the public service eco-system. You can't just change your organisation and carry on having the same kind of relationships – how you work with each other, the way that you build relationships and the tools you have at your disposal are going to change and you have to recognise that from the outset. In short, cultural as well as organisational change is essential for social enterprises to work."

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, told dele-gates that these were "giddy days" for the co-operative sector but "let's not forget that co-operatives are unashamedly for profit". He pointed out that if an enterprise made a loss it would not have the reserves and resources to do anything. And he claimed that the co-operative sector – primarily run by the private sector – was expanding rapidly, with 25 per cent growth over the last three years and 12.9 million members across the UK.

The key to greater productivity in any organisation is more employee engagement, Mayo said, and the core idea of employee owned co-operative models was that they can release the productivity, creativity and passion of people in order to do a better job.

But he added: "The UK has a very large number of people who are disengaged – 23 per cent, higher than many other countries – and we estimate that the costs of low co-operation in the UK economy are upwards of £13bn a year because less engagement means less productivity and innovation."

Mayo produced the results of a government survey of staff satisfaction and engagement which showed the best performing department was the Department for Education with an engagement score of 63 per cent followed closely by the Cabinet Office (62 per cent) and the Home Office and Scottish government (both on 60). But bottom of the pile was HM Revenue & Customs with a staff engagement score of just 37 per cent.

http://www.publicservice.co.uk/feature_story.asp?id=15563<

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Click here< for my submission to the NCVO on Public Service Reforms.

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Cuts to council budgets could mean that Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) in England and Wales will be closed down, according to Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.

The service gets most of its funding from local authorities and the claim has been made that 45 per cent fewer bureaux will remain open after a £25m reduction in council funding, £30m cut in the Financial Inclusion Fund and £3.2m cuts to legal aid.

Guy said: "We are facing a real threat to vital funds at a time when demand is increasing, and will continue to increase, as all the financial and social changes come into effect. Hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to get much-needed help next year."

All CABs in Birmingham are due to close down this month but Liberal Democrat cabinet member for local services Ayoub Khan said: "We have invested more than £1m in independent advice services because we realise the value of them to vulnerable people in this city. But there are more than 100 groups working in Birmingham which the council does not fund. The CAB money was time-limited and they knew it would run out in March."

However, he added: "The CAB in Birmingham has reserves in excess of £300,000, so I am surprised they are closing the door on vulnerable people in this city."

http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=15374<

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Minister Urges Council Transparency of Voluntary Sector Spending

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has written to council leaders encouraging them to publish their voluntary sector spending to improve accountability.

<

The Minister wants councils to publish all grants, payments, contracts and tenders made to voluntary and community organisations or social enterprises in the belief that this will not only increase local accountability on spending decisions, but also highlight where the sector can offer cost efficient solutions to public service delivery.

The letter is also encouraging councils to share examples of good practice in protecting voluntary sector budgets, utilising volunteers and local communities and acknowledges that some councils have already implemented innovative approaches to working with their local sectors.

Mr. Clark said:

"Many councils are strengthening their ties with the voluntary and community sector because they recognise the vital role they can play in delivering high quality front line services.

"Often voluntary and community groups offer good value for taxpayers' money when commissioned to provide services, drawing on the enthusiasm of volunteers, and the goodwill of local communities.

"By requiring all councils to openly publish their grants and payments under contracts and increasing transparency on local spending, we want to open up new opportunities for the voluntary and community sector to participate in local life.

"lf local small businesses and voluntary groups can understand how services are currently delivered they can better assess whether they might be able to put forward a credible bid to run them differently and deliver greater value for money."

http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/newsview.aspx?RF=NEWS&WCU=DSCODE%3dOTSS...<

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MPs to question Ministers on "Big Society" and voluntary sector funding

As part of their wider interest in public service reform, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) will be hearing from Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, and Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, about the Government's plans for the "Big Society" and future funding for charities and voluntary groups.

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Issues

Particular issues that may arise include:

  • the Government's ideas about what the "Big Society" is and how it will work
  • the particular role of charities and voluntary groups
  • Government proposals for increasing philanthropy and volunteering

Witnesses

At 9.45 am

  • Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society
  • Justine Greening MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-sele...<

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