Putting small charities at the heart of public services


Three new measures have been announced by Civil Society Minister, Rob Wilson, as part of a programme to help tackle the challenges of getting small charities into the public service supply chain.

  1. Developing a placed based Public Service Incubator that helps small charities get commissioned. The aim of the Incubator is to enable charities to collaborate with commissioners and develop services that improve the lives of those in need. It will record the barriers that small charities encounter in this process and create guides to overcoming them. In addition the Incubator will show the positive difference that can be achieved when all parts of communities work effectively together.
  2. Exploring the development of a commissioning kitemark that will set out a best practice standard. Commissioners will be able to use this standard to show their commitment to small charity-friendly commissioning.
  3. Recruiting a voluntary, community and social enterprise crown representative. This role will centrally champion commissioning practices that help small charities contribute effectively to public services. It will also function as an intermediary between government and the voluntary sector.

Sir Martyn Lewis, until recently chair of the NCVO, will chair a voluntary sector-led implementation group on these proposals, to put them into practice.

Further description of the Public Service Incubator (PSI) makes you wonder if small charities will be respected for what they are and currently do, or whether they will lose ‘local’. The PSI “aims to support high-potential VCSEs in one or more localities to access the public services market. It will support them to build relationships with commissioners, collaborate with other local providers and build a person-centred service to resolve a complex need. It will also engage and support local commissioners to procure a service in this manner.”

While these measures may be welcome, especially as an acknowledgement that something needs to be done, they are not startlingly exciting and do not smack of being a ‘game changer’.

More information about the measures can be found on GOV.UK