Local charities who rely on commissioned services and local commissioners who do business with local charities should all read a report from the Lloyds Bank Foundation.
The report warns of something our local sector has been wary of for some time, that commissioning processes can unwittingly penalise smaller, local charities and put them at risk, to the detriment of the local people we support.
The Press Release that accompanied the report quotes Paul Streets OBE, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, as follows:
“[The report] reveals a system that routinely discriminates against small charities on the basis of their size, preventing them from competing fairly, leaving them deprived of funding or at the mercy of larger providers, many of which can behave unscrupulously.”
“Small charities have the local knowledge and expertise needed to deliver targeted support to local people. Being failed by current commissioning processes and the public funding that follows means they are at risk of closure with communities likely to lose critical support at a time of growing need.”
The Executive Summary of report begins:
“At Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales we have long argued that services delivered locally by small and medium-sized charities need to be part of society’s wider plan to address disadvantage …. because they’re the services that are often created in response to problems local people face. Trusted by communities and run by individuals who work for their community day in, day out, they have the expertise to provide tailored support to the people that need it, for as long as it takes for them to live independent and stable lives. Yet we know that current commissioning processes are a major threat to the survival of smaller charities.”
In Solihull, we have been fortunate, thanks to the approaches to commissioning that our Council has taken, to avoid many of the issues that the report goes on to highlight. However, with the advance of financial pressures, times change. So, reading this report could be valuable as a means of averting some potential pitfalls that may lie ahead.
Local authorities might, of course, even heed the recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee on page 57 of their ‘Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society’ report:
“We recognise the significantly reduced funding available to local authorities. Nevertheless, grant funding has great potential in sustaining a healthy civil society and in enabling communities to benefit from charities’ capacity to innovate. We recommend that local authorities should bear this in mind in the course of their financial planning, and maintain or revive grants wherever possible.“