Government publishes free guide to help charities bid for contracts

28 Feb 2019 News

Claire Dove, chief executive of Blackburne House

The government has published a free guide for charities bidding for public sector contracts.

VCSEs: a bidder's guide to working with government was published yesterday by the Office for Civil Society, with support from the Cabinet Office.

The guide was commissioned by Claire Dove, the Crown Representative for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs).

It includes guidance on websites to find contracts, events about commissioning processes, preparing for a tender process, and how to make use of the Social Value Act, which requires commissioners to consider social value in their procurement processes.

In her introduction to the guide, Dove says the guide is “just the start” and that she plans to work with commissioners and the sector to “increase the impact of the Social Value Act”.

'There also needs to be a change in commissioning practices' 

Charity umbrella bodies welcomed the guidance but said a change in procurement practices was needed to boost voluntary organisations' involvement in contracts.

Rebecca Young, policy officer at NCVO, said: "We welcome the publication of guidance to help voluntary organisations understand the process of bidding for central and local government contracts.

"While we think this is a positive step, we also need to see change in procurement and commissioning practice to remove barriers for, especially smaller, voluntary organisations.

"In particular we need to see an increase in smaller contracts, and grant funding.

"We look forward to working further with the crown representative to ensure that a range of organisations in the voluntary sector can access funding."

Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at Acevo, said she hoped that local authorites would use the guidance.

She said: “It is important that the commissioning process is more accessible to small and medium sized civil society organisations who have so much to offer their communities.

"We welcome this new guidance as a helpful step in achieving this. We hope that the guidance will also be used by local authorities to improve their understanding of the importance of social value in commissioning decisions.”

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