Key figures from Stone King and the charity and social enterprise sector gave evidence to the House of Lords Public Sector Services Committee on Wednesday, June 9

Public benefit lawyer 

Julian Blake joined Locality’s Director of Policy and Engagement, Ed Wallis, and the Chief Development Officer of Catch22, Mat Ilic.

The committee were asking for third sector, council leaders’ and legal experts’ views on the Government’s response to the committee’s work on the commissioning of public services.

Julian’s submission to the Transforming Procurement Green Paper consultation in March set-out 5 fundamental characteristics of transformation - recognition that: commissioning should be driven by purpose; procurement is only part of commissioning; social value is a core imperative; the diverse public benefit sector is a core resource; and collaborative, partnership principles of engagement need cultivation.

“These principles are being applied by pioneering commissioners, but this is despite the systemic predominance of market-driven commercial competition, where, inherently, the market alone does not deliver” said Julian, who specialises in social enterprise, charity, responsible business and public service reform and innovation.

 “COVID-19 has highlighted the entrenched, pre-existing issues and how community and innovation partnerships are the way forward”.

Locality is the national membership network for community organisations. Their Keep it Local campaign is bringing together councils and communities to build transformative local partnerships.

“The answers we need to many of the complex problems we face can be found in local communities. But too often, bureaucratic commissioning and big outsourcing contracts prevent the power of community being unlocked,” said Ed Wallis. That needs to change. The forthcoming Procurement Bill can lead the way by making collaboration, not competition, guiding principle of public services and support local authorities to commission high-quality services in their local communities.” 

Catch22 is a not for profit business with a social mission that has designed and delivered services for over 200 years.

“As charities and mature social enterprises have increasingly taken on the delivery of public services, they’ve had to compete, with commercial businesses on very unlevel playing fields,” said its Cheif Development Officer Mat Ilic. 

“We’re delivering in a highly competitive marketplace with thin margins and often without the backing or trust that is so often placed in the corporate sector. The pandemic has demonstrated the agility, flexibility and ultimately the ability of voluntary sector organisations to deliver effective public services without being burdened by the bureaucracy and inertia which so often inflicts the public sector or the drive to extract value which often underpins the motivation of commercial providers.

“Now is absolutely the right time to be re-assessing the way public services are procured and delivered – to ensure high quality provision that has intrinsic social value which delivers a sustainable return on investment”. 

Julian, Mat, and commissioners from Oldham and Plymouth Councils are all involved in E3M, an initiative which supports the growth, impact and influence of mature social enterprises in delivering public services. Locality collaborates with E3M.

The talk to the committee was ahead of an E3M webinar, hosted by Stone King, which looks at how successful public and private sector partnerships can be forged.

Public Benefit Partnerships for Children’s Services takes place on July 8, and will explore alternative ways of developing service provision to provide better services and better value for the public purse. It will look at the groundbreaking Children’s Innovation Partnership created by Leicestershire County Council and Barnardo’s and the work of Kibble, one of the UK’s most successful social enterprises.

For more information or to book via the event page here

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