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Increased commissioning of public services will open up new opportunities for some voluntary organisations to get involved in public service delivery. Local voluntary organisations and community groups are well-placed to deliver innovative, cost effective support that meets the needs of local communities. In practice, however, commissioning has also created significant difficulties and barriers, particularly for smaller local organisations. Many are effectively excluded from the delivery of local services because of poorly designed commissioning and procurement processes, which threaten the key Big Society objective - to open up public services by making it easier to do business with the state.
Successful commissioning means delivering the right outcomes at the right cost. Compare that with our definition of good value for money: ‘the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes’. Successful commissioning is, almost by definition, good value for money. ‘Successful Commissioning’ aims to help local commissioners in the public sector get better value for money from civil society organisations (CSOs). It also aims to help civil society organisations become more informed about the commissioning process, and about what they should expect from financial relationships with the public sector.
The Local Grants Forum says that the 2012 NCVO Civil Society Almanac, published today, provides conclusive proof that a major shift from grant funding to contracting by local public bodies is taking place. Based on figures up to 2010, the Almanac shows public sector grant funding has fallen dramatically since 2005 - and fell by £500 million between 2007/08 and 2009/10. These figures reflect the position prior to the recent big reductions in public spending, which have resulted in much publicised further cuts to grant funding during 2010/11 and 2011/12. The Local Grants Forum was founded in 2007 in response to this threat to local grant funding. The 17 national charities who comprise the membership of the LGF believe grant aid is an essential part of the local funding mix for voluntary and community organisations and vital for sustaining thriving local communities.