The government has pledged “a revival of grant-making” as part of its aim to “broaden the range of funding options for community initiatives” in its Civil Society Strategy.
It says its backing for “Grants 2.0” reflects “the fact that grants can combine flexibility with the accountability and performance rigour of a contract, and also bring ‘additionality’, such as philanthropic or in-kind investment”.
The strategy recommends that all public bodies follow the Grants Functional Standard, which sets out minimum standards for general grants.
The government says it supports open data initiatives and will hold a “ministerial event” to “collectively improve data infrastructure and open data publication to support civil society”.
It announced that there will be new guidance for commissioners on grant-making to small and local charities.
The strategy also says the crown representative, Claire Dove, will run an awareness campaign to encourage use of Contracts Finder and Mystery Shopper services to help hold authorities to account for poor commissioning practice.
The strategy says it will takes steps to tackle the unpopular market model for public service commissioning.
One way the government will try to do this is by reviewing and increasing uptake of its “innovative partnership” model, which allows commissioners to select providers with whom they can then deliver services outside of competitive tendering.
The Cabinet Office aims to include social enterprise in its Strategic Supplier Group “in order for civil society to be represented at the apex of public sector”.
The government will consult on plans to extend the support currently offered to public sector teams “aspiring to form mutuals to other community-led and social organisations” outside the public sector.
It says the consultation will also take views on the impact of national pay deals on services provided by former government organisations.
‘Charities undersell their social value’
The strategy says the government aims to strengthen the Social Value Act and will look at expanding it to apply to grants and other areas of public decision making such as planning and community asset transfer.
However it says charities themselves need to improve their understanding of what social value is in order to be more successful in contract bids.
“Commissioners report that too often charities or social enterprises undersell their social value, failing to properly account for the ‘additionality’ they bring,” it says.
The government says it will require all central government commercial buyers to undertake training on how to take account of social value in commissioning and procurement.
It also says it will renew its commitment to the principles of the Compact, a document published in 2010 that sets out a series of principles and commitments governing the relationship between the social sector and the government.