Agenda item

Voluntary and Community Sector

This report provides Members with an overview of the research carried out in respect of other Councils’, particularly Unitary Authorities, relationships with the Voluntary and Community Sector.





Members considered a report which provided the Committee with an

overview of the research carried out in respect of other Councils, particularly

Unitary Authorities’ relationships with the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).


There was general support amongst some Members for the shift in grant funding to a more outcome based approach. During the discussion the following comments and questions were raised:


-       a concern was expressed that this new approach might be too much of a burden on small organisations and some organisations may need help in moving to this way of working. The Assistant Director – Commissioning, Business and Intelligence assured Members that monitoring of outcomes would be proportionate to the size of the contract but it was important that value for money was demonstrated.  The Assistant Director acknowledged some would need help and advised the £1m was being split into some smaller lots to allow smaller organisations to bid

-       with regard to the pilot, Members asked for an assurance that there would be an emphasis on safeguarding and also queried what training would be provided for volunteers. The Assistant Director gave an assurance that safeguarding was key and would be incorporated into every contract so that people were signposted to a safe service.

-       regarding the cost of training volunteers and the importance of retention, the Assistant Director undertook to take that on board as part of the personal care pilots.

-       responding to a comment about the lack of a reference to advocacy in the report, the Assistant Director advised that an advocacy service was being commissioned separately for vulnerable adults; she would clarify whether provision for advocacy work was included in the tender.

-       the lack of transparency in the budget setting process meant the VCS could find it difficult to see where funding reductions were being proposed. The Assistant Director responded that the open tendering process involved and putting funding on a contractual basis would provide more stability and transparency for the VCS.

-       concern that some people had fallen into a gap when a contract ended and before a new one started. The Assistant Director asked for examples so she could investigate this but felt it may be non council contracts that were being referred to as a period of mobilisation was built into new tenders. 

-       the potential for service users to disengage at the point of transition due to a lack of clarity about what was to happen next.

-       the need to help people navigate through what could be a bewildering amount of choice in services with the risk that the right choice to meet needs was not made. The Assistant Director assured Members that as part of the pilot there would be staff whose sole responsibility was to act as care navigators.

-       the possibility of a covenant with the voluntary sector by which the Council would formally recognise its importance.

-       the fact that the size of many voluntary sector organisations meant they would never bid for contracts or receive funding from the Council but still provided a useful service and that, without them, there would be added pressures for the Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group. The Assistant Director acknowledged many would not bid for contracts. The Council was planning to develop new posts whose role would be to engage and develop VCS organisations.

-       recent correspondence from WALT, a Community Interest Company, to councillors which had indicated they could not continue after April 2018. The Assistant Director commented that WALT had been asked to develop a business case. She would get back to the Member with the latest position.




The Committee:


a)    noted the contents of this report, and;


b)    agreed that a report be presented to the Committee at a later date following the implementation of the pilot outlined in paragraph 4.6 of the report.


Supporting documents: