DCMS launches programme to help charities win public contracts

04 Apr 2023 News

Two people negotiating a contract.


A government-funded programme has been launched to help voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) in England bid for and win public sector contracts. 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today launched the VCSE Contract Readiness programme, which includes a series of online training sessions and webinars for charities hoping to secure local and national government contracts.

DCMS acknowledged that VCSEs face “distinct challenges” when bidding for contracts, adding that it is committed to developing policies and practices to increase their participation.

The programme will be jointly delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and Voice4Change England (V4CE). 

Programme ‘will improve the skills and knowledge of VCSEs’

As part of the programme, charities and social enterprises will be offered a range of webinars, short and long courses which will be delivered by SSE. 

Participants can also access an online hub that contains resources on how to engage in public sector procurement. 

“The expertise of VCSEs means they are often ideally placed to help create compassionate, responsive and efficient public services,” said Claire Dove, VCSE crown representative.

“The VCSE Contract Readiness programme will help to address some of the barriers that have prevented VCSEs entering the public sector market.

“It will improve the skills and knowledge of VCSEs on how to bid for contracts and provide them greater opportunity to enter public sector supply chains. This in turn gives the government the opportunity of having a diversity of suppliers in its procurement chains.”

DCMS: VCSEs play ‘vital role’ in public service delivery

Last week, DCMS published an action plan detailing how it intends to increase commercial engagement with civil society and address barriers to participation. 

It said that VCSEs are in a “unique position to deliver social value in public procurement” and play a “vital” role in public service delivery. 

“Central government has committed to diversifying its supply chains alongside ensuring contracts are awarded on the basis of not only price, but also the supplier’s social impact. This not only provides VCSE organisations with the much deserved recognition for their positive contribution to society, but also ensures the additional social benefits that can be achieved in the delivery of contracts are taken into account,” it said.

“DCMS is committed to improving its awareness of VCSEs in its sectors and the markets it purchases from, with the aim of increasing VCSE appetite to participate in procurement bids and reduce barriers to participation.”

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