Cross-government reforms benefit charities and mutuals

21 May 2013 05:45 PM

A comprehensive package of measures to help the voluntary sector and mutuals compete for contracts to cut reoffending was announced yesterday by the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice.

This follows proactive engagement with a range of organisations from the voluntary sector, social enterprises and entrepreneurial staff in probation trusts looking to form new mutuals.

Many of these measures are being introduced in response to the recommendations set out in social enterprise organisation 3SC’s action plan. This follows existing support from the Cabinet Office that gives probation staff mutuals access to a £10 million Mutuals Support Programme.

The measures will support new and existing providers from the voluntary, social enterprise and private sectors, radically changing the way offenders are rehabilitated through the gate and into the community, delivering better value for taxpayers through payment by results.

The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice are providing support to:

  • develop a financial modelling tool to enable voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) to assess sub-contract offers
  • provide a central legal function to check VCSE organisations’ contractual terms and conditions with main providers
  • run a series of workshops to help VCSE organisations understand the reform process and develop the vital skills they will need to compete for and deliver rehabilitation services
  • create a database of VCSEs and mutuals involved in the rehabilitation of offenders to help organisations form partnerships and consortia

The Cabinet Office’s Mutuals Support Programme is providing intensive one-on-one support to prepare the first cohort of seven fledgling probation mutuals for competition. This includes providing professional services, such as legal, commercial and tax advice, on behalf of the potential mutuals. As well as access to the Cabinet Office’s network of commercial experts, delivering capability-building workshops and one-on-one coaching.

Separately, there will also be up to £6 million available to assist VCSEs to bid for contracts or to secure social investment through the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund and at least £1 million to support these organisations using social action in the rehabilitation of offenders through Cabinet Office’s Centre for Social Action.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

I’m pleased to announce a package of tailored support to help fledgling mutuals and smaller rehabilitation organisations bid for contracts. We want to build on the best from the public sector, the best from the private sector and the best from the voluntary sector to break the cycle of crime for good.‪

That is why we are reorganising the Probation Service, so that the public, voluntary and private sectors can work more flexibly and effectively side by side. All of those with a strong track record in this area are able to get involved.

Prisons and Rehabilitation Minister Jeremy Wright said:

We have set out our plans to transform the way offenders are rehabilitated in the community and the voluntary sector has a wealth of expertise and experience, a reputation for innovation and a key role to play. Probation mutuals will also be supported to play a key role in the delivery of services.

Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd said:

The social sector has huge value to add in this bold new approach to reducing reoffending and we are working closely with the Ministry of Justice to make sure that the commissioning process gives us the best possible chance of capturing that value. This innovative package of support is designed to help boost the capacity and capability of charities, mutuals and social enterprises.

Notes to editors

Mapping VCSEs and mutuals working in rehabilitation

The Cabinet Office is funding the development of a publicly-accessible database of VCSEs and mutuals involved in the rehabilitation of offenders, covering as many organisations as reasonably practicable. The database will set out what organisations there are and their interest in delivering services as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This will also include an overview of their capabilities and capacity, along with evidence of impact of their work. The database will be a useful resource for private sector players, VCSEs, mutuals and social investors who wish to develop partnerships and consortiums for the delivery of rehabilitation services as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme.

Mutuals Support Programme

The Cabinet Office has set up a fast-track route to bespoke support for fledgling mutuals across probation services. The support has been specifically designed to help potential mutuals become competition ready ahead of the service contract competitions. The support is broadly of two types:

  • support delivered on a “one-to-many” basis i.e. such as capability-building workshops
  • intensive support delivered to projects on a “one-to-one” basis

Cabinet Office has launched a programme of capability-building workshops, delivered by external commercial experts. These will continue to run over the summer.

Intensive one-to-one support is now being made available to the most promising projects and can include professional services, such as legal, commercial and tax advice, on behalf of the potential mutuals.

The first cohort of projects being provided with intensive support involve staff looking to spin out from the following probation trusts:

  • Cumbria PT, Lancashire PT and Merseyside PT – “Innovo”
  • Dorset and Devon & Cornwall PT
  • West Mercia PT and Warwickshire PT
  • Kent PT and Sussex & Surrey PT
  • Essex PT
  • Leicestershire & Rutland PT
  • London PT – “RISE”

You can find out more from Mutuals Information Service or call 0845 5390543.

The Cabinet Office Centre for Social Action will invest around £40 million to support organisations who want to mobilise people to take part in social action in a range of ways.

Justice-themed masterclasses

In December the Cabinet Office published Making it easier for civil society to work with the state, setting out the steps government is taking to help VCSE organisations to succeed in public service delivery. One of those steps was the launch of a programme of ‘masterclasses’ to enhance the commercial skills of VCSE providers.

The two-day events enable the sharing of the skills, tools and techniques used by experts in both the private and voluntary sector to win and deliver public service contracts.

The Cabinet Office has been working with MOJ to tailor a series of classes for the part of the sector engaged in probation reform. These are being hosted by CLINKS and will take place throughout May in London, York and Peterborough. Find out more.

The Cabinet Office’s £10 million Investment and Contract Readiness Fund provides support which enables social ventures to access new forms of investment and compete for public service contracts. We will be having a specific ICRF round for social ventures working in rehabilitation who want to become Prime providers or work within the supply chains. In order to ensure ICRF works for potential providers at sub contractor level, we have reduced the target contract size from £1 million to £0.5 million (this is total contract size and can be spread over a number of years). The Investor Panel will also have the flexibility to provide grants below the current minimum of £50,000.

From May 2013, the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund will prioritise applications from organisations delivering rehabilitation services and are looking for contract readiness support to help them compete for the new contracts announced as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation strategy. Organisations not covered by this theme are welcome to apply to the Fund as well.

For more information please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3514 or the Cabinet Office press office on 020 7276 0400.