Manchester commissioners promise charities more flexibility during pandemic

30 Mar 2020 News

Public sector commissioners in Greater Manchester have said they will be flexible about reporting and monitoring requirements for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership issued a joint statement saying they would give the VCSE sector the freedom to use its funding where it thinks it will have the most impact during the pandemic.

They also offered their thanks to the sector for its work.

“We know that the skill, energy and compassion of the VCSE sector will be vital in keeping our communities strong. But we also recognise the huge pressure that this is putting on staff, volunteers and budgets,” the statement reads.

“The Covid-19 outbreak is an emergency that will have a profound impact on the VCSE sector. We know that the sector will face financial challenges, difficulties in rapidly shifting to new ways of working, and will do all this against the backdrop of a spike in demand for support and a potential reduction in staffing levels as a result of the outbreak.

“We also know that VSCE organisations of all different shapes and sizes play a core role in supporting the health and wellbeing of people across Greater Manchester. But we also recognise you cannot do this alone, and that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available.

“We want to reassure you that we stand with you during this unprecedented period and we will work in partnership with you. We want to do everything we can to enable the VSCE sector to focus on the vital work you do supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

The approach will be guided by the new Greater Manchester VCSE Commissioning Framework and Delivery Plan, agreed between the Joint Commissioning Board and the VCSE Devolution Reference Group.

The commissioners said that they will do everything possible to support the VSCE sector’s financial position, for example through more regular or upfront payment of existing grants and by ‘rolling over’ recurrent grants for next year without the need for formal applications.

They will also continue to lobby the government about the importance of the sector and be flexible on reporting and monitoring for the foreseeable future.

The body also pledged to give the sector the freedom to use funding where it will have the most impact, and not tie organisations to previously agreed delivery targets or outcomes, where possible.

It asks that the VCSE sector engage with Greater Manchester-wide coordination activity, keep it informed about any changes, and understand that the commissioners are also facing severe pressures.

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