Funding Update – Autumn 2012

August 9, 2012

The July 2011 Open Public Services White Paper set out the Government’s approach to the delivery of public services and included a number of new funding opportunities to drive this agenda. A number of these may also be complementary to the Cooperative Council model. Further programmes have been added over the past year and this briefing brings them together in one place. The listing below provides a short summary for each and appropriate links where further information can be obtained. The opportunities are grouped roughly in date order depending on when they were originally announced.

Mutuals Support Programme

The £10m Mutuals Support Programme from the Cabinet Office provides free professional expertise, advice and grant funding to fledgling mutuals that are being set up to deliver public services by employees leaving the public sector. The new Mutuals Information Service was launched in December 2011 as the gateway to this support and remains open in 2012. Contact: 0845 539 0543.

Investment and Contract Readiness Fund

Announced in 2011, this £10m programme is intended to support Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) organisations to ‘become a mainstream option for public service delivery.’ The support offered by this fund is intended to enable organisations to compete for public sector contracts and access new types of social finance such as that offered by Big Society Capital (the new bank set up to provide funding for the sector). This fund was launched by the Social Investment Business on behalf of the Cabinet Office in May 2012. It will offer grants of up to £150k to social ventures wishing to purchase investment and contract readiness support from approved advisors. The fund is open until at least September 2013. Contact: 0191 261 5200.

Social Incubator Fund

Significant funding from the Cabinet Office and delivered by The Big Fund (up to £1.5m per project) is available to established ‘social incubator’ organisations able to offer intensive support at early stages to new social ventures. This support could include support to VCS organisations in applying to the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund (see above) or investing in social ventures where the risk is initially too high for Big Society Capital or other investors. Deadline: 21 September 2012.  Contact: socialincubator@biglotteryfund.org.uk

Outcomes Finance Fund

Potential new fund flagged in July 2012 Cabinet Office paper ‘Growing the Social Investment Market: Progress update.’ This proposed new fund would look to better enable public sector commissioners to develop larger scale partnership projects across multiple service areas. Further details to be provided in due course. Funding type to be confirmed e.g. loan / grant etc.

Community Right to Challenge Grant

Part of the Localism Act 2011, the new ‘Community Right to Challenge’ will allow community groups to bid to deliver a local authority service. Such expressions of interest have to be considered by the Council. The Community Right to Challenge Grant programme opened in July 2012 (again managed by the Social Investment Business). This £10m fund provides advice and grants up to £100k to support community groups looking to compete in a procurement process for a local authority service. Contact: 0845 345 4564.

Community Ownership and Management of Assets including Right to Bid Grant programme

New £16m programme launched in July 2012 to support communities wanting to take over the running of local buildings & assets. This fund will provide them with support to work up bids. Grants of up to £100k are available. It is intended as complementary to the Community Right to Challenge Grant programme (see above). No current deadlines. Contact: 0845 345 4564.

Social Enterprise Investment Fund

The Department of Health’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund is intended to support & encourage the development of social enterprises in the health and social care sector. Also managed by the Social Investment Business, the current deadline is 24 August 2012 but there may be further rounds in due course. Contact: 0191 269 2276.

Social Action Fund

Funded by the Cabinet Office and also managed by the Social Investment Business, the aim of the Fund is to support models that encourage ‘social action’ – enabling people to come together and improve the quality of life in their community. Social action opportunities could take the form of time (volunteering, time-banking) or resources (money, property, skills, fixed assets or equipment). There have already been 2 rounds in 2011 & 2012. While the fund is currently closed, a June 2012 Cabinet Office press release has flagged a further £40m over 3 years that will be made available.

This funding information is provided by the Lambeth Council Grants Team, based in the Council’s Finance & Resources department. Contact: Tim O’Connor, Grants and Funding Manager on 020 7926 9348 or toconnor@lambeth.gov.uk

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Grants for groups interested in taking over local services

July 24, 2012

From Monday 16 July 2012, community groups can apply for funding to help them use the new Community Right to Challenge in the Localism Act. The Right came into force on 27 June and will empower local community organisations to take over a local service that they can run more effectively.

Pre-feasibility grants between £5,000 and £10,000 are on offer to help organisations build internal capacity. Organisations that can demonstrate a strong potential to compete for public service delivery contracts can apply for feasibility grants of up to £100,000 to help prepare an Expression of Interest or compete in a procurement process.

The Grant Programme is part of the Community Right to Challenge Support Programme and will offer advice and funding to support organisations through the process of competing for local services and is particularly keen to help small local organisations build capacity to deliver public service contracts.

If you are interested in the grant programme you should contact the Community Rights Advice Service through their website or on 0845 345 4564 for more information.


January round-up

January 27, 2012

As the first month in 2012 draws to a close, there are a few things from the last month that might be of interest.

Firstly David Cameron made a speech on 19 January announcing that the Government will introduce a Cooperatives Bill to Parliament before the next election. Currently more than a dozen statutes govern cooperatives and mutuals, with many being outdated. The Government’s plan is to consolidate these into one statute to make it easier for people to set up and run a cooperative. Currently there are no further details on the content of the new Bill, other than the press release from 10 Downing Street, but as soon as there are they will be published on the toolkit.

The London Community Foundation (formerly Capital Community Foundation) have updated the list of grants they administer that are available to organisations in Lambeth. These include:

  • Lambeth Festivals and Outdoor Events Fund;
  • Lambeth Community Fund; and
  • Santander Social Enterprise Development Awards.

For more information on these funds and others, visit London Community Foundation’s website – you might want to consider signing up to the e-bulletin to receive news about the latest funding opportunities.

Moves continue at a national and European level to ensure public procurement rules can support local jobs and businesses. Chris White MP’s Private Member’s Bill has gone through its third reading in the House of Commons will receive its second reading in the House of Lords before the end of the month. The Public Services (Social Value) Bill aims to strengthen the social enterprise business sector and make the concept of ‘social value’ more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services. If passed it will require local authorities, when entering into public procurement contracts, to give greater consideration to economic, social or environmental wellbeing during the pre-procurement stage.  More information can be found in an interview he gave to Third Sector News.

Just before the end of December, the European Commission published revised public procurement directives, following a consultation through 2011. The proposed changes include:

  • Greater flexibility to negotiate
  • Simpler rules on dynamic purchasing systems
  • The ability for procurers to evaluate suppliers’ past performance
  • Enablement of electronic marketplaces
  • More flexible and less burdensome rules on supplier selection
  • Faster procurement through shortened time limits

Further information on these proposed changes can be found on the Cabinet Office website.

The council has continued to look at procurement processes and a recent seminar for council officers explained how to include community benefits in new contracts and tender processes. The slides from the seminar are available here, and will be useful to both commissioners within the council and people from organisations interested in bidding for work with the council.

In December the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons published a report into the Government’s Big Society initiative. The Committee’s findings included a warning that the Government’s plans lack clarity and need an implementation plan, and that the Government should consider creating a ‘Big Society Minister’. The report also calls for greater clarity on the roles of charitable, private and public providers of public services and urges ministers to outline how issues of accountability in terms of quality and regulatory powers will be managed in the Big Society project, and in particular accountability for public expenditure.  The full report is available on the House of Commons website. Of particular interest to the cooperative agenda are the sections on Social Impact Bonds and Public Service Mutuals.


Employee ownership – some useful publications

December 8, 2011

Below are some really useful documents about employee ownership.

Time for Social Enterprise, a report from the Social Enterprise Coalition which was published in February 2011 includes interviews with people from the public, private and social enterprise sector and looks at what more needs to be done to enable social entrepreneurship in the UK. It has a particular focus on the issue of social value, and how this can be incorporated more into public procurement and society’s mindset more widely.

Model Growth, Do employee owned businesses deliver sustainable growth? is a research report looking at whether employee owned businesses deliver greater benefits than other business ownership models. The conclusions include the view that small- and medium-sized employee owned businesses (EOBs) do significantly better than non-EOBs; the profitability of EOBs correlates with giving employees greater autonomy in decision-making; and that EOBs are better employers not only in consistently recruiting more employees but also by rewarding them with higher wages. On the more negative side, EOBs confront more regulatory and policy challenges than non-EOBs, and they can have difficulties obtaining favourable financing from institutions that are more accustomed to dealing with listed companies.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on employee ownership produced a report in 2008 on how employee ownership is changing the face on business in the UK, including in relation to public services. Their conclusions in that regard are “that whilst the evidence base is currently, and inevitably, scanty with regard to the contribution of the co-owned sector to public service provision, it strongly suggests that coownership offers real potential as one model for public service provision, with some notable and powerful points of differentiation compared to other models, which underscore both performance improvement and public support and confidence.”

Some interesting food for thought. Enjoy!


Mutual Support Programme – government support announced today

December 5, 2011

Today, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, will launch the Mutuals Support Programme. The programme was mentioned in a post a few weeks ago but exact details of what is on offer are now available.

This programme brings together information, advice and bespoke support for fledgling mutuals. Elements of the programme include:

  • New web resource
  • Information and case management hotline
  • Funding for bespoke professional services

In total a fund of more than £10m will enable the most promising and innovative mutuals to spin out of the public sector and deliver public services in England, according to the Cabinet Office.

You can access this new support by visiting the mutuals information on the Cabinet Office website or via the hotline number 0845 539 0543.


New £20million Social Action Fund

October 17, 2011

The Social Action Fund is a new grant fund of over £20 million managed by Social Investment Business on behalf of the government.

The fund aims to inspire organisations to create new social action opportunities through people giving what they have, be that their time, their money, or their assets, knowledge and skills.
The Fund aims to support social action in three areas:

1. Social action in the community – projects that will encourage people to come together in their neighbourhoods to support each other

2. Social action inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics – projects that will capitalise on the momentum and enthusiasm generated to by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games to create a legacy of social action.

3. Social action for all ages – projects that motivate people across all generations to get involved in volunteering and charitable giving – from school children and students, to working professionals and those near or of retirement age.

The Social Action Fund is open to applications to fund social action projects in England from civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses with a track record of delivering social action programmes. The organisations must have operated for more than 2 years and have a minimum turnover of £100k. Check out the website for more details and the application form.


Government support for mutuals

September 7, 2011

The Open Public Services White Paper, published in July 2011, sets out the government’s support for the delivery of public services and initiatives that will be available. This article provides a useful summary of the white paper, with a particular focus on the support it announces for mutuals and alternative delivery options.

Mutuals Information Service – In November 2010, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced that Local Partnerships, Co-operatives UK and the Employee Ownership Association had come together in partnership to provide a signposting service for staff in the public sector interested in setting up a social or mutual enterprise. This is the Mutuals Information Service (MIS). MIS can be contacted by emailing mutuals@local.gov.uk or by telephone on 020 7187 7377 (if you want to talk in confidence, they recommend telephoning).

Mutual Support Programme – This will be a £10million programme to “support for some of the most promising and innovative mutuals in order that they reach the point of investment readiness”, according to the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd. At the time of writing there are no further details on the Mutual Support Programme, and it is unclear whether this will be a fund that people can apply to or whether the funding will be used to support initiatives such as the Mutual Information Service.

Investment and Contract Readiness Fund – Again this is a £10million fund, which was announced in July 2011. The fund will be open to applications from April 2012 and aims to help civil society organisations “to develop the right skills, the right systems and the right attitude so that they are ready for investment, and in a stronger position to win public sector contracts.”

Right to Provide – The Government is set to roll out new ‘Rights to Provide’ across public services so that employers will be expected to accept suitable proposals from front line staff who want to take over and run their services as mutual organisations. This will enable public sector workers to form independent, or joint venture based mutual and co-operative social enterprises. This was announced by Francis Maude in November 2010 and referred to in the Open Public Services white paper. The Right to Provide is currently available to NHS employees, who have to express their interest to their Board by the end of the year. It is unclear how the Right to Provide will work for council services, keep an eye on this toolkit for news.

Mutuals Task Force – Professor Julian Le Grand, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on public service reform, has been appointed to lead a Task Force to push employee ownership across the public sector. The task force was established in February 2011 but as yet has not announced any findings.

Mutual pathfindersthe first wave of employee-led mutual pathfinders was launched in August 2010 with a second wave announced in February 2011. These pathfinders are being mentored by expert organisations as well as leading figures in social enterprise and public service to support their growth and share best practice. The pathfinders will provide learning that can be applied to other public service spin-outs. The Lambeth Resource Centre, one of the cooperative council early adopters, is also a mutual pathfinder.