VCSE review points the way to better commissioning

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April 2, 2015 at 12:28

The Joint review of investment in VCSEs in the health and care sector (VCSE Review) last month published its interim report, which you can read online. The interim report is well worth a read, and highlights many of the problems that charities have been raising with public bodies and Ministers for several years. However, here are three key things that I have taken away from this report: 1.        It’s time to really open up commissioning to the sector Something that is often forgotten in the discussion about public services is that charities are not only service delivery organisations. Charities carry […]

A chance to restart the social investment conversation

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March 31, 2015 at 09:00

Last Friday saw the launch of the Alternative Social Investment Commission’s report. You can read the full report with its conclusions and recommendations here. As someone who has followed the social investment market’s development closely after the past few years, this report is a welcome breath of fresh air in a debate which appeared to have stagnated. The report starts, quite rightly, by looking at what social investment actually is. Over the years, there has been a tendency to radically extend the definition of social investment to meaning any money that the sector receives that isn’t a grant or a […]

The real picture – what can we learn from the Whole of Government Accounts 2013-14?

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March 30, 2015 at 17:17

Are you a government spending anorak? If so, I am sure that like me you spent all night reading through the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) 2013-14 which was published last Thursday. WGA consolidates the audited accounts of around 5,500 organisations across the public sector, to produce a comprehensive, accounts based picture of the financial position of the UK public sector. They are different from the National Accounts, because they use the International Financial Reporting Standards that charities and private sector bodies often use. So the WGA includes future spending to meet current obligations, PFI liabilities, pension liabilities and the […]

Budget 2015 – Missed opportunities and targeted giveaways

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March 18, 2015 at 14:56

The Chancellor has sat down, the media are pouring over the budget documents looking for stories to come out of the figures, but what has been the impact of the Budget for charities? A slight easing of austerity Looking at the overall picture, it seems clear that the impact of austerity is not going be significantly reduced at the start of the next Parliament, but will be a lot lighter towards the end. Ignoring the effect of inflation, this Budget has seen an easing of the cuts. In 2016-17, the Budget implies that the amount available to spend for departments […]

#volsecbudget – What should charities look out for?

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March 17, 2015 at 10:51

Tomorrow will mark the last Budget of this Parliament, and already a great deal has been trailed in the media from inheritance tax cuts to raising the personal allowance. Charity Finance Group coordinated a letter with other sector bodies at the start of the month to ask the Chancellor to tackle a number of issues such as Gift Aid, Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, VAT and capacity building for the sector. But what should charities be looking out for tomorrow when the Mr Osborne stands up at 12.30 after PMQs? Here are a few things that we think may interest […]

Can charities help end the ‘pushmi-pullyu’ of local government spending to support prevention?

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March 16, 2015 at 09:14

The recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on ‘The cost of the cuts: the impact on local government and poorer communities’ makes for fascinating reading. There is a lot of analysis and statistics on how the frontloading of government spending cuts on local government have hit services and communities, as well as the voluntary sector. While there are a number of worrying issues highlighted by this report, from the point of the view of charities and the sector’s finances, the most worrying was the squeeze on spending on preventative services and the lack of capacity of local authorities to undertake full […]

Capacity building – a dividing line in 2015?

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March 10, 2015 at 10:16

Last week’s election hustings at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering generated a number of news articles. I attended the hustings, which were certainly lively and prompted a great deal of discussion and debate afterwards. There was the usual back and forth over the Lobbying Act and exchanges over Eric Pickles statement on grants to charities not being used for lobbying. However, the most interesting section (for me) was the on capacity building for the sector, and I think it revealed a subtle divide between the Conservatives and Labour positions.* When asked about capacity building the […]

Pressure on charity campaigning is not going to go away

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February 27, 2015 at 11:18

This week Weber Shandwick held a debate on the future of charity campaigning which saw a panel of eminent speakers* discuss the Lobbying Act and other issues in the run up to the election. As reported by the sector press, the debate was intense and the vast majority of charities in the room believed that the sector was coming under undue pressure from politicians and regulators. However, on the back of this debate, I think there is a simple truth that charities need to take on board in the run up to the election: politicians are jealous of the influence […]

Measurement: A double-edged sword for social value

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February 16, 2015 at 09:52

We’re all positivists now. Although there are a few ‘heretics’, generally, it seems that the march of the measurers has been a successful one. Nearly every charity that I speak with is interested in measurement and finding ways to report on its impact, though most are held back by the lack of time, resources or experience. Overall, this is a step forward. But we should also be cautious. Measurement is inherently idiosyncratic given the diversity of the sector and vast range of different outcomes that they are trying to achieve. This is not merely diversity by issue, but also diversity […]