Thursday 21 March 2013

In Huyton

Well, I spent yesterday there. You may not know it; it’s a major metropolitan council outside Liverpool but for us oldies it is forever associated with Harold Wilson. Former PM though no one remembers him now. I had dinner with him once in Oxford! I recall the pipe...

Anyway, that's a long way to saying I was speaking at the annual meeting of the Knowsley CVS. I had been invited because the CVS have been working with ACEVO and the council on an innovative third sector consortia that has just been set up and came into operation as a new body this week. It’s a hub of third sector bodies established to bid for contracts from the council and other public bodies and to draw together a supply chain to deliver those contracts. It will draw in both established charities and social enterprises already delivering public services but also bodies that want to develop and organisations that don't ever want to get involved in all that tendering stuff but still want to play a part in delivering for their citizens. An interesting feature is that this also involves Barnardos; they have managed to avoid that self destructive impulse that bedevils some local third sector bodies who think you can't work with national charities.

ACEVO has been working with 5 local councils, supported by funding from the LGA and Knowsley, and this work has come to a serious conclusion in Knowsley with this new consortia. And importantly, the Council has been innovative in the way it intends to implement the Social Value Act.

As far as I can tell Knowsley is the only Council so far to draw up plans to include social value in their scoring of tenders. They will award 10% of the score for organisations that demonstrate social value and they have developed a framework which sets out the 5 areas they want to see impact in and the outcomes they want to evaluate. This is pioneering work and we need to spread it. Most councils and certainly practically no health bodies have done anything to update their procurement in line with the new Act which came into force in January. ACEVO will be looking for any examples of a poor contract award where the charity lost out and the commissioner did not score social value, and we will be ready to take any such lawbreakers to Court. Bring it on!

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