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31 Jul 2013 - 14:03 by Nigel Rose

There is much glib talk of a level playing field in procurement and commissioning. The theory is that there is an open, transparent and fair process which gives all organisations bidding for a contract an equal opportunity of "winning". Let's look at how level this playing field is.

First an anecdote! Many years ago I was heavily involved in campaigning for the rights of people with mental health problems and one of the key issues, as always, was access to work. One particularly enterprising council that I came across had, through long experience and monitoring, realised that no-one...

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26 Jul 2013 - 16:14 by Mike Wild

I've mentioned previously that there's a danger that this blog becomes a series of rants about things I'm angry about. Well not today, at least!

Our State of the Voluntary Sector report shows there are over 3000 voluntary and community groups in Manchester. I don't know them all but I do know a lot of them and one of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to see some of the amazing things happening in groups across Manchester and meet some fantastic people.

The scale and diversity of that effort is...

4 Jul 2013 - 16:48 by Nigel Rose

Spot purchasing is a new and strange idea to many voluntary organisations but is becoming more common as public bodies seek to reduce costs. It can be a far riskier form of funding if it contributes significantly to the financial viability of an organisation, as there are usually no guarantees of income, unlike grants or fixed contracts. This article examines a few of the considerations that need to be taken into account when developing a pricing plan. Some of the key concepts are emboldened. This article does not attempt to deal with the ethical issues arising for...

17 Jun 2013 - 16:52 by Mike Wild

Judging by the phone calls, emails and tweets I and my colleagues have had, the report in Third Sector of comments by Geoff Little (Deputy CEO of Manchester City Council) addressing the Charity Finance Group conference earlier this week has sent a shockwave around the voluntary and community sector not just in Manchester but the rest of the country too.

It's not the best idea to respond to a speech which I didn't actually hear but the comments as reported do raise concerns about the way the relationships between Local...

16 May 2013 - 14:41 by mary.duncan

A Listening Event with Jon Cruddas MP, Labour Party Policy Coordinator

A debate was organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Wythenshawe on Monday to look at parenting policies. Jon Cruddas was the keynote speaker (author of the Labour Party’s Election Manifesto for 2015). In theory, this was planned to be a ‘listening’ event to define the central challenges for social policy over the coming decade. The focus for the debate was families and childhood - a better start in life.

It was fair to say that the meeting was a missed opportunity...

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10 May 2013 - 16:25 by Mike Wild

This morning I was in the happy position of being able to present our new research into the state of the voluntary sector in Manchester. It has been a long-held ambition of mine to be able to show the full extent of the enormous contribution which voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises and the community work of faith groups make to the city. 

Like many of the major cities, Manchester is facing the combined effects of recession, public sector spending cuts and long standing deprivation in local communities. The results of our research show that the voluntary,...

29 Apr 2013 - 12:46 by Nigel Rose

One way of describing my role as Strategic Lead on Commissioning is that it is “to improve commissioning between public authorities and the voluntary and community sector (VCS) ”. This raises the question “what is a public authority?”

The definition of public authority is particularly important in the procurement phase of commissioning as there are special rules that dictate how procurement works for public authorities. These were developed as part of the liberalisation agenda of the European Economic Community. Contracts that fall under Part A of the EU procurement rules are very...

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17 Apr 2013 - 12:21 by Nigel Rose

Salford Foundation is one of the very few VCS organisation in Greater Manchester that has trialed the cost benefit analysis (CBA) model developed by New Economy and a central plank of the Greater Manchester Community Budgets pilot. The CBA was carried out on the Together...

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20 Mar 2013 - 15:31 by mary.duncan

Manchester City Council are reviewing a range of voluntary and community sector contracts/grants and are proposing to expand the use of volunteering as a way of reconciling increasing demand for social care support with cuts to social care funding.

This has triggered some concerns and debate within the VCS and within the Macc team about the proposed project that will ‘stretch their local offer on social care support, by expanding volunteering and community engagement’.

Using volunteers to stretch the council’s offer on social care support will provide new opportunities for...

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14 Mar 2013 - 15:13 by fiona.mark

The Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic Network (MBMEN) at its February networking event heard from speakers about the changes that are coming to the Welfare system. Participants expressed great concern about the need for more information and worried about the impact of the changes on families, friends, children and vulnerable communities.
The Government says it has instituted welfare reform to:
• save £19b or more on the country’s benefits bill
• simplify, streamline and reform the welfare system
• make it more beneficial to be in work
The changes coming apply...

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