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					CONTRACT & COMMISSIONING

Supporting Camden’s Voluntary and Community Sector to respond to the challenges of a commissioning culture. Conference Report – May 2007

VAC is an independent grant-aided voluntary organisation that exists to support, develop and promote voluntary and community activity in Camden.

CONTENTS
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. INTRODUCTION ABOUT THE CONFERENCE … … … … … … … … p1 p2 p5 p8 p11 p17 P20 P25 P36

COMMISSIONING - A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE COMMISSIONING - A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE UNDERSTANDING COMMISSIONING MEASURING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC VALUE

DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS AND CONSORTIA … CONCLUSIONS AND ACTION PLANNING APPENDICES (i) (ii) (iii) Conference Programme Event Evaluation Summary For Further Information … …

1. INTRODUCTION
Commissioning is becoming increasingly the way in which statutory funders want to resource services provided by the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). The shift towards commissioning has brought with it a number of challenges for the sector, and in Camden several innovative projects have been developed to support VCS organisations to respond to these. These projects have focused on three key challenges: explore commissioning challenges; learn more about the work being developed to support the sector; and consider practical ways of tackling commissioning challenges both in their own organisation and collectively, across the sector. An important aspect of the conference was to be the opportunity for groups to identify their support needs in relation to commissioning and contract funding, and to generate their own ideas for ways in which VAC and other partners could meet those needs in the future. The Contract & Commissioning Conference was held on 14 May 2007 and attended by 80 representatives of Camden’s third sector. This report aims to provide an overview of the information shared at the event and some of the most pressing issues and concerns raised by participants in regard to commissioning and its challenges. It also concludes with an action plan developed out of ideas generated on the day (see pages 28/29). We hope it will provide a useful reminder of the day for those who attended, and an informative overview of local issues, concerns and developments (current and planned) for those who were unable to attend. The action plan will form the basis of VAC’s commissioning support strategy for the sector in 200708.

• How to measure the impact of the sector’s work in a way that really captures the added value of what VCS organisations do, and can convince funders of the particular benefits of funding them.

• How

to develop effective partnerships and consortia - to enable organisations to compete within a framework that might otherwise exclude smaller groups. criteria – for instance ensuring that the added value of the VCS is built into specifications so that VCS organisations are not disadvantaged by the process.

• How to influence commissioning processes and

Early in partners learning resulted

2007 Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) and its began to discuss ways of disseminating the from these local projects. These discussions in the idea of a conference to help VCS groups

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2. ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

learning from local research projects

‘Contract and Commissioning – A Conference for the Voluntary and Community Sector in Camden’ was held on 14 May at Friends Meeting House (Euston) and was attended by 80 individuals from a broad cross-section of Camden’s VCS groups.

• To give participants an opportunity to shape the action planning of local infrastructure organisations with a remit to provide support to the sector.

Aims
The aims of the day were: • To increase knowledge and understanding of developments in commissioning and commissioning processes; • To give participants an opportunity to share their experiences, issues and concerns, and to identify their support needs;

Programme
The event involved keynote addresses from the Office of the Third Sector and VAC, offering respectively a national and then a local perspective on commissioning and its challenges. These addresses were followed by a lively question and answer session. After a short break, morning workshops covered the 3 key ‘commissioning challenges’ and highlighted work taking place in Camden to support the sector to respond to these. - 2 -

Workshop 1 – understanding and influencing commissioning This workshop, facilitated by staff from the New Economics Foundation, looked at a local partnership project (‘Invest To Save’). The ‘Invest to Save’ project has involved Camden PCT and Camden Council working with the local VCS to look at how commissioners can realise social benefits and efficiency savings through use of VCS organisations in service delivery. The workshop outlined the project and gave participants the opportunity to consider possible mechanisms for influencing local commissioning processes. Workshop 2 - measuring impact and demonstrating value to funders This workshop, facilitated by staff from the Office for Public Management, looked at the learning from an innovative Change Up research project in Camden and how it could be applied to help groups demonstrate their own organisation’s worth and ‘added value’ as a service provider when seeking funding, particularly when seeking funding through the contract and commissioning route. Workshop 3 - developing successful partnerships and consortia With commissioning generally resulting in a push for fewer and larger contracts, there is a concern that smaller VCS groups may find it difficult to compete. One

way in which they can compete effectively, and indeed a way in which VCS groups can bring ‘added value’ to the table, is by forming partnerships or consortia. VAC has been actively working with Russell-Cooke Solicitors on ways to support groups to develop partnerships (including work on legal templates, identifying good practice to share, and offering customised training). In this workshop Russell-Cooke Solicitors shared information on this work and laid out key considerations for groups thinking of developing partnerships. In the afternoon VAC staff facilitated discussion groups. The purpose of these was to: • provide a synthesis of information shared in the morning session and give participants an opportunity to think through any implications for their organisations and the sector as a whole; • identify any issues and concerns about the information shared in the morning sessions, and identify support needs (and current gaps in meeting those); • help VAC develop an action plan to meet those identified support needs (by generating practical ideas to share in a closing plenary session). A closing ‘action planning’ session allowed participants to share ideas generated within their workshops and

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groups, and to prioritise those activities they felt would be most usefully contained within a local strategy to support the sector to engage with, and thrive under, commissioning frameworks.

most found the action planning activities useful and thought-provoking. A number of participants were particularly pleased that the Conference would not be a ‘stand alone’ activity, but would have a practical impact – ie. that it would be used to generate a support strategy for the sector based on information shared and ideas developed on the day.

Outcomes
Overall the event was a great success and all three aims were achieved – with attendance good, participation levels high and participant expectations largely met.1

“A great event and thanks for making it happen.” “Very useful and relevant event” “Good for networking” “I have met lots of interesting people and organisations. Thanks for this opportunity.” “Very useful day, thank you for organising it!” “ Informative and helpful”

At the end of the day participants reported increased clarity about commissioning and commissioning processes; enthusiasm was expressed about the possibilities of learning from local research and development projects; a majority clearly welcomed the opportunity to explore issues and concerns and particularly the opportunity to network with others; and
1

action planning

Appendix 2 – Evaluation Summary

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3. A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
An overview of commissioning from a national perspective was given by Shargil Ahmad from the Office of the Third Sector who opened the conference with a keynote address titled, “Partnership in Public Services: Third Sector Involvement.” This address focused on what the government is doing to improve commissioning and procurement and to increase third sector capacity to engage with commissioning processes.

Working together
Across services, total public funding through the VCS has doubled in the last decade from £5bn to £10bn and a number of services have been developed in partnership between the government and the VCS – for instance, some probation services such as Youth Inclusion Programmes. Funding has also been put into trailblazing activities - developing joint working to improve public services. Learning from this partnership work, and from the Office’s national analysis and research, has begun to inform both policy and practice on engagement with the VCS at the national level.

Office of the Third Sector

The Office of the Third Sector exists to improve services to users and the public (not to support the third sector per se). There is a commitment within the Office to From policy to practice recognising the strengths of the In 2006 we saw the introduction of a sector and its distinctiveness, and to number of new policies relating to the protecting its independence. The development of the sector, including the government recognises that by Social Exclusion Action Plan; the Social working together they and the third Enterprise Action Plan; the Public Services sector can achieve far more than Action Plan; the Comprehensive Spending they can by working alone. There is Shargil Ahmad Review Interim Report; and the also some recognition at government Government White Paper. The focus for level that the role of the third sector is not simply 2007 is implementation of these various plans and about delivery – that third sector organisations of all policies. sizes have a contribution to make to the design and improvement of public services, including campaigning. - 5 -

The Local Government White Paper
The paper aims to encourage better partnership working between the third sector and local authorities, building on the notion that the best partnership working should be the rule, not the exception. It recognises the central role of local councils in promoting a healthy third sector, whilst recognising the diversity of the sector as deliverers of services, community champions and advocates. As a result of the paper the government is now committed to: • creating a new duty so that councils are required to take steps to ensure the participation of the local third sector; • increasing the involvement of users communities in commissioning decisions; and

Audit Commission, on the performance of services and of local authorities.

Improving commissioning
Ambition: To improve the commissioning process in central and local government to allow the third sector to engage in designing and delivering public service contracts. Government will: • Train 2,000 commissioners from across the public sector in partnership with local government and the IDeA • Work to embed eight commissioning principles in commissioning frameworks • Review sub-contracting arrangements and explore how to improve the experiences of sub-contractors • Incentivise the establishment of third sector consortia • Develop assurance processes.

• enhancing the right of local people to be heard, by extending the Community Call for Action (CCfA) to all local government services; • providing neighbourhoods and communities with opportunities to request Local Charters (setting out the service standards and priorities for action local people can expect from their local authority); • reinforcing the importance of the user perspective in the judgements of inspectorates, such as the

Improving procurement
Ambition: To streamline procurement process in central and local government by promoting a more stable business environment for the sector.

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Government will: • Identify ways to pass on the stability of three-year funding to third sector organisations • Undertake an analysis of the administrative burden on the sector from contracts and produce simplification plans • Develop standardised contracts in key service delivery areas • Measure progress against the commitment on fullcost recovery

organisations

Building VCS capacity
Ambition: To invest in the sector as a way to ensure that it is able to contribute to the way public services are designed, delivered, improved and held to account. Government will: • Create a £30m Community Assets Fund to incentivise greater ownership and management of assets by the community • Continue to develop Future-builders and align CapacityBuilders with local capacity programmes • Invest £10m to support equity investment in social enterprise • Invest in developing an evidence base
•

Innovation and accountability
Ambition: To ensure that lessons are learnt across public services and to enhance opportunities for communities to hold services to account. Government will: • Develop an Innovation Exchange website to connect innovators and commissioners • Work with partners such as NESTA to support innovation • Encourage the establishment of user-led

Launch an £80m fund to provide small grants to small, community-based VCS organisations (this will become available probably in the autumn of 2007. The process has not yet been agreed but it is hoped it will be simple and flexible, and Community Foundations will be responsible for allocating the funds.)

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4. A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE ON COMMISSIONING

setting the local context

Introduction
An overview of commissioning and its challenges from a local perspective was given by Simone Hensby from Voluntary Action Camden (VAC). Her address briefly described local commissioning arrangements and developments and then went on to look at some of the work VAC has already been involved with to develop the sector’s capacity to engage with commissioning at the local level.

The procurement process
Camden’s Procurement and Contract Handbook describes procurement as, “the purchasing or buying aspect of service delivery. It constitutes the actual implementation of commissioning requirements. As such it involves a strategic view of markets.” There are a number of models of procurement, including:
•

Changing funding climate
There has been a push within statutory funding towards commissioning and away from grant aid as a means of securing services. (Grant Aid can be best understood as a ‘gift relationship’ - it encompasses an expression of trust; supports a ‘bottom up’ approach, and is often seen as placing a particular value on the independence of the VCS/provider.)

Grants: Legally judged to be a ‘gift’ relationship – an organisation approaches a funder and asks for money to support its work. The funder gives the money to the organisation as a ‘gift’. Competitive Tendering: Where organisations compete to secure a contract. Spot Purchase: Where a purchaser purchases on the ‘spot’, eg. when there is a need for a bed they

• •

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buy the bed and may not buy another bed from the same provider for another two months.
• •

Invitation to Submit Bids: Selected organisations are invited to submit bids. Approved/Preferred Lists: Lists developed by commissioners over time, of providers that have gone through a vetting system and have achieved ‘approved’ or ‘preferred’ status. PQQ’s (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires): Organisations complete a questionnaire and the commissioning body decides if they are ‘fit to do business with’. If successful, the organisation is invited to submit a full tender. Negotiated Procedures: Organisations are invited to submit a proposal on how they would meet the outcomes set down by the commissioner. Successful organisations then negotiate the detail of the provision with the commissioning body.

approach), whereas commissioning involves commissioners stating what they want to buy – an approach more akin to ‘top down’.
•

Innovation: The VCS is known for its innovation. Grant aid, with (in some circumstances) less stringent purchasing criteria, enables innovation to occur, whereas commissioning can lock organisations in to a very tight service delivery plan that prevents innovation. Fewer and larger contracts: With the pressure to make economies, commissioners may tend to award fewer and larger contracts because this incurs less costs around tendering, contracting and monitoring. The danger is that small and mediumsized groups will not be able to survive. Transfer of financial risk: Some commissioners transfer all of the risk to the contract provider. Government guidelines state risk should be appropriately shared. Price dominates: Other considerations such as quality can be undervalued. If price is ‘all’, then larger organisations can make cost-savings that smaller ones cannot. Added value of the sector is lost: If commissioning is driven purely by output in terms of units of production, the question arises of where and how the value of volunteering gets

•

•

•

•

Challenges for the sector
The following have been identified as some of the key challenges for the VCS as commissioning becomes the preferred funding mechanism:
•

•

Values: ‘bottom up’ versus ‘top down’ – that is, a value clash. The VCS is based on values that place great importance on need being identified by users, customers, beneficiaries (ie. a ‘bottom up’ - 9 -

•

taken into account; and similarly the value of financial leverage, contribution to the economy and social and community benefits.
•

groups develop the skills and knowledge required to better respond to commissioning challenges. This work has involved delivering training, as well as developing practical tools and templates that groups can use to support them in their work. For instance: • Developing new templates for partnership working • Offering training on ‘Surviving in the New Funding Climate’, various Accredited Project Management Training Courses and workshops on ‘Market Knowledge’.

Independence is challenged: The role of the VCS in acting as an advocate is undermined because commissioners argue that the organisation is a sub-contractor and cannot challenge the funding source.

Responding to the challenges
Important work has been taking place in Camden to help groups respond to the challenges of commissioning. In particular progress has been made with developing frameworks to measure the ‘added value’ of the sector – for instance, seeking to quantify: • The value of volunteering; • The value of leverage; • The value of a ‘third sector’ way of working. In addition VAC has been involved in working with a range of partners to help

describing local initiatives

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5. UNDERSTANDING COMMISSIONING
How does the procurement process work?
Step 1 Need is identified. Step 2 Specification is developed for a service to meet that need. Step 3 Commissioners and procurement officers establish requirements and criteria by which they will evaluate the offers. Step 4 The commissioning body calls for expressions of interest and begins the process of identifying and shortlisting credible providers. (If the contract is over £144,371 a Europe-wide call for competition is made by publishing a contract notice in the Official Journal of the European Union.) Respondents to the notice receive a PreQualification Questionnaire (PQQ), and shortlisting of credible providers takes place on the basis of what organisations put into the PQQ. Step 5 A formal invitation to tender (ITT) is sent out to shortlisted providers. Step 6 The commissioning body evaluates each bidder against pre-set weighted criteria. The process can involve final clarification on proposals at this stage. Step 7 A contract is awarded. The award is made to the bidder scoring highest against the criteria given. Step 8 Monitoring and evaluation of the service is clarified. This can be agreed post-award.

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What are procurement officers looking for?
Suitability should be clear: Organisations wishing to be invited to tender need to clearly demonstrate their suitability as a service provider according to the criteria. Typical expectations would be that organisations are able to demonstrate their financial viability, the quality of their services, that they meet health and safety requirements and that they have clear policies on issues of equality and diversity. A balance between value for money and quality: Procurement officers will consider the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ and ‘the optimum combination of cost and quality to meet the user’s requirement’. They also have to consider the quality/price ratio. Ability to meet other specified criteria: Commissioners will have a schedule/list of other criteria that must be met. This might include, taking for example the case of a social care tender, things such as workforce qualifications, evidence of service user involvement, performance monitoring systems, complaints procedures, quality standards, etc. These schedules give different weightings to the different criteria and organisations wishing to tender should be aware of the weightings.

Ability to follow the process: More generally organisations must comply with presentation requirements, answer all the questions and ensure that they meet deadlines set within the process.

Other commissioning considerations
Procurement officers face a number of sometimes conflicting pressures that they need to consider and balance within the commissioning process, including: • Pressure to consider both national and local targets • Political pressures and the need to engage a range of stakeholders • Legal considerations – including European as well as UK legislation • The need to make efficiency savings and ensure value for money • The need to manage the impact of reduced funding levels • The need to improve monitoring • The pressure to promote innovation • The need to build in sustainability

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Efficiency savings and value for money
The Department of Communities and Local Government describe efficiency as follows: “Efficiency is about raising productivity and enhancing value for money. An efficiency gain is made when, for a given area of activity, an organisation is able to: • Reduce inputs for the same outputs (representing a cashable gain; ie. money is released that can be reused elsewhere); • Reduce prices for the same outputs (representing a cashable gain); • Get greater outputs or improved quality for the same inputs (representing a non-cashable gain; ie. money is not released); or • Get greater outputs or improved quality in return for a proportionately smaller increase in resources (representing a non-cashable gain).”

the project are to show that there can be benefits and efficiency savings through the use of third sector organisations to deliver services, and to show how these can be obtained. The main aims are to: • Improve commissioning and procurement practices in Camden – eg. develop a new model that is based on outcomes and that can be used in commissioning and procurement processes. • Stimulate levels of local economic activity through supply chain development and assist in the development of new third sector suppliers to contribute to the local economy. • Increase opportunities for third sector organisations to be involved in the design and delivery of services.

Working with an “outcomes model”
As part of the project, Camden commissioned NEF (the new economics foundation) to develop an “outcomes model” which can be used in both the procurement process and by providers to demonstrate the social, environmental and economic value (known as ‘triple bottom line’ value) of their activity. The model aims to help organisations win public service contracts by allowing them to demonstrate more effectively the outcomes their service provides for

Benefits and efficiency savings of VCS service delivery
In 2006 Camden Council was successful in winning Invest to Save Budget (ISB)2 funding for a project called ‘Third Sector Service Delivery in Camden’. The objectives of
ISB - a joint HM Treasury/Cabinet Office initiative, funding projects to improve capacity to deliver joined-up public services.
2

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communities within Camden. The model should also enable the council to monitor any longer term savings that are generated by using wider outcomes to demonstrate the value of the work that is done. More broadly, this work will identify ways in which more sustainable, joined-up procurement can help the Council to meet its social, environmental and economic goals via its procurement processes. An important consideration in developing the model has been that it should be easy to use so as not to add unnecessarily to the amount of work needed to bid for or monitor services. The model asks providers to demonstrate the ‘Camden Community outcomes’ - derived from the Council’s Community Strategy - as well as the service-level outcomes, that they may bring to a contract.

• sustain local economic services such as post-offices • increase amount of waste recycled or composted • reduce energy usage • more people volunteering • foster community self-help • more residents feeling they can influence local decisions • more voting and people feeling a greater sense of connection with Camden • promote healthy living and physical activity • increase number of vulnerable adults living independently • more young people receive mentoring.

Demonstrating community outcomes
Camden Community Strategy outlines the following community outcomes for the borough: • increase local business activity • increase number of disabled people and people with mental problems into work and staying in work

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The outcomes model
Commissioner and service user priorities Community strategy and corporate priorities

Activity

Output

Service Level Outcomes

Camden Community Outcomes

Savings/Proxies: • to service • Camden-wide • wider public sector

National Outcome Frameworks

The example of a social firm
Activity
Recycles computers and provides IT support Provides training and paid work to volunteers recovering from mental health problems

Output
No. of computers sold Service hours completed No. of hours of training and paid work

Service Outcomes
Functioning IT system! Cost-efficient support service

Community Outcomes Savings/Proxies
Reduced waste Reduced worklessness and economic inactivity Landfill savings Costs of tenancy failure £2,000 Council staffed hostel £484 per week; local authority group home £202; Complex need placements £1,200 per week Lost economic output whilst economically inactive per week - £230; Incapacity benefit: £4,379 per claimant per year

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Using proxy values
The following are some examples of proxy values that have been devised for savings that might be made through investment in mental ill-health prevention: Medical • Increased frequency of GP contact - £127 per hour • Average stay in intensive care unit – c. £5,169 Housing • Costs of each tenancy failure £2,000 • Complex need placements - up to £1,200 per week Crime • Costs of police custody per night - £363 • Costs of an anti-social behaviour incident £204 Economic • Annual benefit to society of voluntary input of seven hours per week £1,838 Other social & financial • Foster care costs c. £16,224 pa.

considering how to apply the outcomes model

Learning from the day centre services pilot suggests a number of challenges for the future roll-out of the model. These include: • How to measure results – challenges of monitoring and evaluation; • How to put a monetary value on those wider benefits – how to measure social return on investment. For instance, savings might be direct (to the council), indirect (across the borough), or could be public purse savings (where money is saved for the Treasury or the taxpayer). • How to implement full cost recovery; • How to work in real partnership with the VCS, and how to familiarise providers with this approach so that they can use it to their benefit.

What next for the outcomes model?
The outcomes model will be piloted in six services in Camden. The first is a contract to provide day care services to people with mental health problems. Further service areas have provisionally been identified, eg. Supporting People programme, Children, Schools and Families and LAA Stronger Communities block contracts.

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6. MEASURING SOCIAL & ECONOMIC VALUE
Local research into the VCS contribution
It is widely recognised that the voluntary and community sector (VCS) is a key contributor to the social and economic regeneration of communities and there is a growing interest in understanding the true social value of the VCS contribution. There have been, however, few formal quantitative or qualitative assessments of the value and impact of the VCS. To address this at the local level, in 2006 the Camden ChangeUp Steering Group commissioned the Office of Public Management (OPM™) to undertake a study assessing the impact of the VCS on social and economic outcomes in Camden, and to develop a framework that could be used to measure the value of the sector in the future. For the study OPM interviewed 49 Camden VCS organisations, about three quarters (74%) of whom were registered charities. There was a good spread of respondents across different income bands from less than £10,000 to over £1million. More than half (53%) said that all their organisation’s activities take place in Camden, and a further 31% said between 75% and 99% of their activities take place in Camden.

taking questions about the research

The value of funding levered into the borough
Overall, organisations participating in this study had a total income of over £27 million from a mix of public funds (46%), charges for services (29%) and other sources. The study highlighted the variety of different sources of funding attracted by Camden’s VCS and its ability to lever a significant level of investment into the borough. For example:

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• For every £1 that Camden Council invests in these 49 organisations, a further £5 is brought in from elsewhere. • For every £1 in grant money that Camden Council contributes to these 49 organisations, another £20 is brought in from elsewhere. • For every £1 in grant money that Camden provides to these organisations a further £6 is brought in from other statutory bodies.

Forty per cent of VCS staff also live in Camden. This suggests that the sector is offering important employment opportunities to the residents of Camden which in turn also means that a substantial amount of the income of these organisations is being kept within the local economy in Camden. Overall, organisations allocate over £16 million to staffing costs each year. The study attempted to calculate what the equivalent annual costs would be for volunteers (the monetary value of the volunteers who work for these organisations). Using the average fulltime hourly wage rate for Camden of £18.89 and the part-time rate of £14.283 results in an estimated value of £2,840,367 for the organisations involved in the study. It is also important to take into account the many additional benefits volunteers bring to organisations and the community beyond a rough wage-replacement model of value, to encompass the contribution volunteering makes to the building of human and social capital.

The value of volunteering and employment opportunities
A total of 2,490 people work for the organisations in both a paid and unpaid capacity – 685 of whom are paid staff and 1815 are volunteers. This means that 73% of the workforce of these organisations are volunteers. Whilst the majority (84%) of respondent organisations have some kind of paid staff, only two-thirds (67%) have a full-time member of staff. This draws attention to the important role volunteers play in strengthening some organisations’ capacity. Indeed, over half (53%) of the organisations surveyed said that they either could not function, or could not provide the services they do, without volunteers.

Achieving social outcomes
The social outcomes in Camden’s Local Area Agreement 2006/07 have informed the development of Camden’s Community Strategy. In this research, organisations
3

“The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings” (2006) Office for National Statistics

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were asked to what extent their organisation contributed to achievement of some of those social outcomes, with the following being the outcomes to which a majority of respondents felt they contributed: • a reduction in social isolation and increasing the sense of belonging of people and communities within Camden • the promotion and sustainability of social cohesion between different communities • empowering local people to have a greater voice and influence over local decision-making and service delivery. Over and above this groups were found to be clearly contributing to economic outcomes in Camden, particularly in terms of the income they are levering into the Borough; the number of local people they are employing; the wealth of services that are being provided ‘in kind’ by volunteers; and the training and skills they are offering staff, volunteers and service users to enhance their employment opportunities.

However, the research found that though organisations were clearly contributing to these social and economic outcomes they found their contribution hard to measure and hard to convey. In recognition of this the study began to identify a framework that organisations could use to measure their impact on these wider outcomes.

Measuring impact in the future
The framework developed as a part of this research gives the potential for the sector in Camden to build up a much larger evidence base on a sector-wide contribution. It is based on an organisational database which captures information on the identified areas that will help ‘measure’ organisations and the sector’s contribution (eg. income, volunteers profile, etc.). However, to take it forward will require investment to develop the database and collect sufficient information to give an accurate profile of all VCS organisations in Camden.

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7. DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS & CONSORTIA
The value of networks and partnerships
The recent ChangeUp research project into the value of the VCS contribution to life in Camden identified high levels of partnership working within the sector. Interviewees were asked to list the key organisations, networks, or partnerships that they work with on a regular basis, and to identify the main benefits of working with them. In total, 248 different partnerships were mentioned, across the 49 organisations involved. Interviewees talked about various types of partnerships and networks, across a range of different sectors, including schools, leisure organisations, neighbourhood and community groups, faith organisations and disability-related organisations. The most frequently mentioned partnerships on an individual basis were with Camden Council (particularly Social Services) and Voluntary Action Camden, emphasising the strong links between Camden Council and the voluntary sector, as well as the important role that infrastructure organisations such as Voluntary Action Camden play. The research also identified a number of benefits that were associated with working with different organisations and partnerships - including: • • • • • • • • • • • Information sharing Better co-ordination of service provision Working towards common goals and objectives Provide advice, support and guidance Funding and funding opportunities Providing/offering premises Networking Referrals Shared expertise and ideas Providing volunteers Training provision

Models for partnerships
There are three main ‘models’ for partnerships. Decisions about the type of partnership to develop could be affected by a number of considerations, including type of service to be delivered; delivery history and experience of potential partners; and timescale for the partnership – eg. whether it would focus on delivering a single service/activity, or a longer-term relationship with potential to focus on a number of services/ activities. There are a number of important legal issues to consider, most notably the type of legal structure a partnership might require.

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Special Purpose Vehicle This would be a new legal entity that comes together to deliver a specific piece of work or to meet a particular target.

Legal structures for partnerships
A key stage in the development of a partnership is the consideration of what kind of ‘legal personality’ the partnership should have – ie. should it become an incorporated organisation. There are a number of different types of legal structure that a partnership could consider, and a partnership may also want to consider the benefits of charity registration. Type • • • • • of legal structure The ‘sole trader’ and partnerships Company limited by shares Company limited by guarantee Community Interest Company (‘CIC’) Charitable Incorporated Organisation (‘CIO’)

presenting on partnerships and the law

Lead Agency Model This is where one agency heads up a partnership and involves others in delivering services. It is possible for smaller organisations to feel almost employed to do a job rather than involved in a partnership with this arrangement, though if the agencies are working together for mutual profit then it is properly called a partnership. Contractual Collaboration This is often seen as a more ‘equal’ partnership, but a key issue is the importance of role clarity. It is important to operate with defined roles. It is also crucial to define financial responsibilities and liabilities within the partnership.

The ‘sole trader’ and partnerships The advantages of being a sole trader include independence, ease of set up and running, and that all the profits go to the individual trader. The disadvantages include a lack of support, unlimited liability and the fact that the individual is personally responsible for any debts run up by the business. In such

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circumstances, partnership can be appealing, in part because of the ease of setting up a partnership between individuals, and the fact that this gives traders a wider range of skills and experience, and someone to share responsibility with. Problems can occur when there are disagreements between partners, and with a partnership as with a sole trader, there is unlimited liability (ie. the partners are personally responsible for any debts that the business runs up.) Company Limited by Shares This is a limited company, registered at Companies House, that has ‘shareholders’ rather than members. In a company limited by shares, someone becomes a member by acquiring shares in the company. This may be by purchasing them, or the company's articles may specify that certain people (eg. employees) are automatically entitled to receive one or more shares. In a conventional share-capital company, voting rights are apportioned in accordance with the number of shares each member holds (one share, one vote), but the articles may specify one member, one vote. The Company Limited by Guarantee This is a commonly used legal structure for partnerships and is often assessed as the most effective. Instead of shareholders there are 'members' - who each guarantee to contribute a nominal amount, usually one pound, in the event of a company winding-up. There are also

directors as with commercial companies, and these can be the same people as the members. This structure has the advantage of being relatively quick and easy to establish with low registration fees; they can be either charitable or non-charitable (eg. social enterprise), and if charitable some tax reliefs are available. One possible disadvantage is that if charitable, organisations could end up being registered with both Companies House and the Charity Commission – and would therefore need to file information/accounts with two regulators with different requirements. The Community Interest Company (CIC) A CIC is a relatively new type of company, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. CICs are relatively easy to set up, with the flexibility and certainty of the company form, but with some special features to ensure they are working for the benefit of the community. For instance, CICs must pass a “community interest” test, confirming in an annual community interest report that the organisation has pursued purposes beneficial to the community, has not served a restricted group of beneficiaries and has involved its stakeholders. As well as passing the community interest test, CICs must also have an 'asset lock' (ie. there are restrictions regarding how assets and profits can be distributed).

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This relatively new structure requires organisations to registered in two places - that is, both at Companies House and with the regulator of CICs. Organisations can’t be both charities and CICs. Amongst the advantages commonly identified for this legal structure is that CICs are able to operate more “commercially” than charities (eg. CICs limited by shares can pay dividends to individual shareholders, subject to a cap); there is flexibility to be able to pay directors; and the CI test defines community interest more widely than the public benefit test for Charities. Although CICs have less onerous regulation than charities, they do not get the same tax advantages. Charitable Incorporated Organisation This form is designed to allow charities a limited liability structure without needing to have company status and be regulated both by the Charity Commission and Companies House – ie. there is a single regulator. Having a single regulator- the Charity Commission – is often identified as a key advantage of this form. It is also suggested that conversion from a company limited by guarantee should be fairly straightforward. However, as a relatively new form, not all the advantages and disadvantages are entirely clear.

Charitable Status The advantages of registering with the Charity Commission are in part financial – for instance, tax relief, gift aid, etc. Others argue that registration supports an organisation to gain both public recognition and trust, and increases the availability of different funding sources. On the downside some organisations find the application process more complex than companies registration and the reporting and legal requirements are more cumbersome than those of Companies House.

The risks of partnership working
Though partnership working often results in benefits for all stakeholders, this is not to say it is without risks. Any organisations considering entering into partnerships are advised not only to develop a sound understanding of all the potential downfalls/risks, but also to seek professional and/or legal advice. Amongst the sorts of practical and legal issues that ought to be considered are the following: • Purpose and the danger of ‘object drift’ when seeking to work with another agency to meet the requirements of a service specification • Parties (can be useful to identify specific people involved, eg Trustees)

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• Payment (how much, when, VAT, allocation of funds between partners) • Term (length of contract) • Data protection and information-sharing (how, when, organisational policies, protocols, etc.)
•

Employment (whose responsibility and which staff will be allocated to support project – and on what terms)
identifying support needs

• Asset ownership (eg. this could include intellectual and other assets – eg. who owns what at the end?) • Insurance • Liability and indemnities • Enforcement between partners
•

Dispute resolution (what if one partner is not delivering)

• Termination (can depend a lot on trust but this should not be relied upon).

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8. CONCLUSIONS & ACTION PLANNING
This event was intended to inform and to stimulate debate within Camden’s Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) about the challenges of commissioning and how to best respond to them. It was also our hope that the event would clarify those areas where VCS organisations felt most in need of support, and generate practical ideas for ways in which those support needs could be met at the local level. This final section of our report captures the most pressing issues and concerns of those present (as shared within workshops, discussion groups and plenary question and answer sessions). It also outlines a 15point plan of action based on the wealth of ideas generated by those VCS groups represented on the day. risks; and (d) resource implications of new ways of working. Knowledge and understanding: From contributions to group discussion and from individual feedback forms, it became clear during the day that many groups are finding the whole issue of contract and commissioning daunting. Many participants talked of finding the concepts, language and processes difficult to keep pace with; and finding it particularly difficult to get to grips with the implications – actual or potential – of commissioning for their own organisation’s funding and service delivery. Whilst the event clearly contributed to greater clarity for many of those who attended, a significant majority felt more needed to be done so that groups can be clear about how things work; where to get information from; and who to turn to for help and support. Whilst these issues seemed common to different types of organisation, they were identified as particularly acute for smaller organisations, and within that smaller organisations working with emergent refugee
discussing support needs

Discussion
Throughout the day a number of common themes emerged from participants’ discussions in workshops and groups. These could be loosely categorised as issues in relation to (a) knowledge and understanding; (b) processes and dialogue; (c) opportunities and

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communities who can feel particularly ‘out of the loop’ as regards how things work. Processes and dialogue: The event revealed some cynicism about whether or not commissioners really do have an interest in listening to the sector’s perspective and allowing it to influence commissioning processes – though Camden Council’s support for the event was appreciated and gave some grounds for optimism amongst a number of participants. Overall however, it appeared many participants were more optimistic about being able to understand than to really influence commissioning processes. For instance some doubt was expressed at how/whether the sector could encourage commissioners to understand best value as being about more than simply providing cheaper services; also a concern was raised that current processes do not allow for sector development and learning – so if a group fails in its attempt to tender for a service, if they are not given good feedback, they are not able to learn from the experience. There were calls for greater openness and transparency in processes and regarding decisionmaking; more dialogue; and involvement of the VCS in feedback and review processes. Opportunities and risks: The event showcased work that is already underway to support groups to engage better with commissioning processes – including support to develop effective partnerships, ways to measure the

social and economic value of organisations’ work, etc. The enthusiastic and interested response of participants to hearing about this work suggests an open-ness to looking at ways of working differently within the sector. For many, however, the concern was to see new initiatives move now from the theoretical (the development of models and new approaches) to the practical (implementing these models and putting new approaches into practice). This was reflected in the strong interest many participants expressed in ways of learning from others and in developing practical tools and templates. Once again, although engaging with commissioning was seen as a challenge across the board, the point was raised frequently throughout the day that taking on new ways of delivering services, or new approaches to monitoring and reporting is likely to be more of a challenge for smaller organisations. For instance, in relation to the development of partnerships and consortia, for smaller groups this can seem timeconsuming and/or very resource-intensive and not as realistic an option for smaller as for larger groups. Some representatives of smaller organisations also questioned whether or not larger organisations can really be encouraged to see significant gains from partnering smaller organisations, and pointed to concerns about the risk of being ‘swallowed up’ or taken over if seeking to work in partnership with a larger organisation. There

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was an interest in looking at ways of safeguarding the independence and unique contribution of smaller organisations both within commissioning processes and within the development of partnerships or consortia. Resource implications: In workshop discussions as participants considered ways of taking on learning from the various projects and initiatives described, it became clear that cost implications could be the most significant barrier. For instance, concerns were expressed at the possible cost (money and staff time) of introducing new data-gathering and monitoring systems to allow better measurement of added value; or the possible time it can take to identify and establish an effective partnership. Resource implications were highlighted in relation to the needs of individual organisations (eg. costs of training, staff time, costs of implementing new systems, etc.) and in relation to the needs of the sector as a whole (eg. the need to invest in more accessible specialist advice, the need to increase training opportunities, etc.). Finally, resource implications were raised in regard to concerns about full cost recovery. A number of organisations were concerned that current processes do not build in full

cost recovery for management and administrative input, and that this makes commissioning a less appropriate funding option than it might otherwise be for many groups.

Action planning
Towards the end of the day participants were encouraged to identify their most pressing support needs, and generate ideas for how they felt local infrastructure bodies could meet those needs. The following 15-point ‘action plan’ is based on those ideas, and in particular on those that were prioritised during the closing plenary session. There were 6 broad areas of activity that participants felt should be the main focus of any support strategy to be developed by VAC and its partners. We outline the action plan below first in summary, then in more detail.
prioritising action points

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Summary action plan Workstream 1: Awareness-Raising (New Ways of Working)
• Raise awareness of new ways of working to meet commissioning challenges.

Workstream 2: Meeting Information Needs
• Improve the quality and accessibility of information about commissioning processes. • Improve information flow between and about organisations who could potentially develop partnerships. • Continue to develop a sector-wide database to support local efforts to measure the true value (and added value) of the VCS. • Continue to offer advice and information about alternatives to commissioning and contracting, recognising that it is not going to be an appropriate funding route for many organisations.

Workstream 3: Developing Accessible Specialist Support
• Offer one-to-one consultancy for small groups. • Offer support to attain recognised quality standards. • Offer expert advice on monitoring, measuring and evaluation. • Increase access to specialist legal information and advice.

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Workstream 4: Developing Practical Tools & Templates
• Develop easy-to-use checklists and templates. • Provide sample partnership agreements and case studies.

Workstream 5: Investing in Training
• Continue to develop training programmes that address local need with regard to the challenges of commissioning. • Develop specific training on how to implement the OPM/ChangeUp ‘measuring social and economic impact’ model.

Workstream 6: Creating a ‘Learning & Improving’ Culture
• Increase and improve dialogue about commissioning between commissioners and commissioned. • Work to create more of a learning culture in relation to commissioning.

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Awareness-Raising
1: Raise awareness of new ways of working to meet commissioning challenges During the conference participants were made aware of a number of new ways of working that might be helpful when seeking to engage with commissioning – including new approaches to outcome monitoring and measurement, and to working in partnership. Many felt that it will be important to promote these new ways of working more widely and ‘market’ them – promoting the positives and potential gains from working differently. For instance, developing a checklist of the pros and cons of partnership working to help groups think through and realistically assess whether development of a partnership/consortium might be beneficial to them and how/in what ways it might be so.

Meeting Information Needs
2: Improve the quality and accessibility of information about commissioning processes More, and more accessible, information about commissioning processes was identified as a priority. In particular people asked for information on structures and processes; lists of commissioning partnerships; contact details of commissioning officers; information on timescales; and timely information on any changes to the above. Participants wanted to be better informed about key strategic partnerships – not just what they do and when they meet, but how groups can feed in to them. A strong plea was made to ‘filter’ information so that it is easier to understand and free of jargon, and/or to encourage commissioners to likewise prioritise keeping things simple. Improve information flow between and about organisations who could potentially develop partnerships Lack of information, and lack of time to seek out information, were identified as barriers to partnership working. Participants asked for more information to be made available on the different partnership models that exist; a list of organisations that provide support; and better information on other organisations who could be potential partners. Discussions throughout the day generated some creative ideas about the sorts of services that might help overcome organisations’ lack of information on potential partners (eg. groups sharing the same interests and

3:

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ethos). For instance, there was some interest in the idea of an outside agency brokering partnership agreements (a kind of “match-making” service); or the establishment of a database to allow a kind of “computer dating” approach to partnerships where agencies looking for partners could look up other organisations with similar interests, look at their strengths and track records in that area, and begin dialogue with them. A number of participants felt simply increasing the opportunities for face-to-face networking would also be useful in this regard. 4: Continue to develop a sector-wide database to support local efforts to measure the true value (and added value) of the VCS Participants (particularly those who had heard about the Office for Public Management’s ChangeUp research into the value of the VCS contribution to life in Camden) were keen that the organisations database developed for the research should be updated and developed further. This resource could give an accurate profile of all VCS organisations in Camden and could be invaluable for purposes of information, networking and future work to measure the impact of the sector. Continue to offer advice and information about alternatives to commissioning and contracting. Some concern was expressed that if all energies go into supporting groups to be commissioning-ready, other funding support may be under-resourced as a result. It was felt important that any funding support strategy should help groups recognise first whether or not commissioning is an appropriate funding route for them, and then should support them with information and advice about the other options.

5:

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Developing Accessible Specialist Support
6: Offer one-to-one consultancy for small groups There was considerable support for the idea of making available more tailored specialist advice to see groups through commissioning processes on an individual basis. Specific suggestions included that VAC could look at developing a kind of management ‘floating support’ (targeting smaller organisations) where an organisation’s needs would be assessed and then members of the VAC team work intensively with the organisation almost as consultants for between 1-5 days on an agreed 1-2-1 programme of support to help them through the process.

7:

Increase support to attain recognised quality standards Quality standards were identified by participants as something that could add to organisational credibility as a service provider, but also as a way of measuring and encouraging the development of good practice in service provision. A number of participants felt increased investment in packages of support (including training) could help more local groups attain valuable standards such as the PQASSO quality mark or Investors in People standards. Offer expert advice on monitoring, measuring and evaluation Participants expressed a keen interest in learning more about monitoring and measuring – thinking about what information it might be important to collect, and how this might be done. There was a widespread acknowledgement that groups need help with measuring social impact - eg. community cohesion - from establishing a baseline through to attributing any change to activities/services delivered. More expert advice on identifying acceptable measures of change/evidence was felt to be a priority.

8:

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9:

Increase access to specialist legal information and advice There was considerable support for the idea that more readily accessible legal advice would be an important way of helping the development of effective partnerships and consortia. Participants identified priority areas as: (a) setting up – choosing the most appropriate legal structures; (b) governance and indemnity issues; and (c) support to managing any problems/disputes that might arise (eg. establishing a local mechanism or process of mediation and dispute resolution).

Developing Practical Tools and Templates
10: Develop easy-to-use checklists and templates Many participants supported the idea that commissioning processes could be somewhat simplified by the provision of more easy-to-use resources that would save groups time and effort (and save any reinventing of the wheel). This idea emerged as a strong priority within participants’ ‘wish lists’ for support in a number of areas – for instance, popular suggestions included commissioning checklists; templates for monitoring and evaluation; templates for measuring added value and/or analysing financial income; templates for quality of life indicators, etc. Provide sample partnership agreements and case studies Groups interested in exploring partnership working felt strongly that sample agreements and case studies of people who have successfully developed effective partnerships would be important sources of learning. The preference was for documents such as this that would bring partnership working ‘to life’, make it seem less daunting or fraught with problems.

11:

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Investing in Training
12: Continue to develop training programmes that address local need with regard to commissioning Whilst there was an acknowledgement that VAC and other infrastructure bodies active in the borough already have some ongoing training programmes of relevance to contract and commissioning, nonetheless training came out strongly as an area for continued and possibly increased investment. Groups identified training as an important way of developing the skills and knowledge needed to become more competitive within a commissioning framework – with specific reference made to the need for training on commissioning processes; the outcomes model being piloted through Invest to Save; measuring and evidencing outcomes; project management; and quality standards. Develop specific training on how to implement the OPM/ChangeUp ‘measuring social and economic impact’ model Participants strongly supported the idea that training should be developed building on the learning from the recent OPM/ChangeUp research project (on measuring social and economic impact). Clear benefits of the model were identified, but concerns were expressed that it may not be easy to adapt the ideas for use at the level of individual organisations. A training programme was seen as the way to tackle any barriers and make it more realistic for groups to implement the model.

13:

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Creating a Learning & Improving Culture
14: Increase and improve dialogue about commissioning between commissioners and commissioned There was a keenness amongst participants to encourage greater dialogue between commissioners and commissioned – and some disappointment that commissioning officers were not present at the event. Suggestions for improving dialogue included ensuring commissioning officer presence at any future events; sending a report of the event to relevant council officers to generate discussion and a response; encouraging dialogue through existing mechanisms – eg. at forum/network meetings or through newsletters. There was a call to organise more consultations and increase the number of ways of feeding back to the council about processes – eg. possibly using online as well as ‘in person’ methods. Work to create more of a learning culture in relation to commissioning A number of participants felt that current feedback systems do not allow groups to learn from their engagement with commissioning. A request was made that in the future commissioners could refer groups that are not successful for further support – eg. signpost them to VAC or other bodies for support. Another idea suggested was that examples of successful and unsuccessful bids could be shared so that groups understand more clearly what is being looked for and the quality of bids overall can be improved. Finally the idea of mentoring was raised – developing a scheme to pair successful organisations with new organisations wanting to be commissioned but not yet successful at getting a service contract.

15:

Next steps
VAC, with the support of a number of local partners, will now begin to implement this strategy/action plan. The main objective of the work will be to provide a comprehensive support programme to enable the voluntary and community sector to play an active role in the design and delivery of the commissioning and contracting agenda. This will be done in hopes that working together we can ensure the added value that the VCS brings to quality of life in the borough is recognised, promoted and embedded into commissioning practice. (This report, a copy of the action plan, and regular progress updates can be accessed via VAC’s website at www.vac.org.uk)

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9. APPENDICES
9.1 9.2 9.3 Conference Programme Event Evaluation Summary For Further Information

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9.1 PROGRAMME
9.30am 10.00am 10.10am
Main hall:

Contract & Commissioning

Registration Chair’s Introduction and Welcome Keynote Presentations – Developments in Commissioning:
• A national perspective - Office of the Third Sector • A local perspective – Voluntary Action Camden • Questions and answers from the floor

11.10am 11.30am
Room 2: Room 3: Drayton:

Coffee Break Workshops – Preparing for Commissioning:
• Understanding and influencing commissioning processes and criteria • Measuring the social and economic value of the work you do • Developing successful partnerships or consortia

1.00pm 2.00pm

Lunch (Buffet Lunch – Main Hall) Discussion Groups – The Implications for the VCS:
• Sharing issues and concerns • Identifying challenges and barriers • Identifying development and support needs

3.00pm 3.10pm
Main hall:

Tea Break Plenary Session – Looking Ahead – Supporting the VCS:
• Action planning to meet development and support needs • What next - closing remarks

4.00pm

Close

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9.2 EVENT EVALUATION
Attendance
The conference was attended by 80 individuals from some 67 organisations. We had anticipated a slightly higher attendance – with 105 individuals booked. The majority of the 26 who booked but did not turn up on the day were individuals who had booked at the last minute. 62% of those who attended completed evaluation forms. The feedback that follows is based on this 62% and not all those who attended. for discussion and networking – as reflected in the following comments: “Good for networking” “I have met lots of interesting people and organisations. Thanks for this opportunity.” “Very useful day, thank you for organising it!” “ Informative and helpful” It was clear from the feedback given that some found the subject overwhelming – particularly those new to it, and feedback reflected the difficulties of pitching the information at a level that could meet different levels of knowledge/awareness amongst participants. A few participants also expressed a wish for less discussion and more practical information, or simply for more information full stop! “A lot of moaning and not enough practical action plans” “Some of the sessions seemed to reinforce people's pessimistic views of their outlook for support. More practical information and advice might have helped to mitigate this.”

Usefulness
When asked whether or not the conference met their expectations, the overwhelming majority of respondents (97%) felt that it had if not wholly, at least in part, with a further 94% saying that they found the event overall useful. “Overall a great event and thanks for making it happen.” “Very useful and relevant event” More detailed feedback identified that participants found the event useful partly because of the information given, and partly because of the opportunities offered

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“The conference was absolutely important even when I'm leaving with mixed emotions. Maybe I will not follow this way of financing our services because I feel a lot of reactions that make me uncomfortable with commissioning.” “Some of it assumed a lot of prior knowledge regarding contract and commissioning.”

Generally the quality of information was recognised as being extremely high and the only real negative comment related to the fact that people wished they could have attended all three of the morning workshops rather than just one (and/or at least had information/handouts from them all). “Copies of handouts from other workshops (not attended) would be useful” “It would have been helpful to have the handouts for the first speaker and workshop 1 presentations” “Need whole day session on the legal issues of partnerships as an incredible amount of information required - perhaps develop handbook.”

Content and delivery
The morning presentations were rated as one of the best parts of the day – with 60% rating these as either excellent or very good, and 30% as good. Only 10% rated these as average and the feedback was only that one speaker was a little fast to follow. The morning workshops were found to be extremely useful with 63% of participants finding them excellent or very good, and 34% as good. Only 3% rated them average. Afternoon discussion workshops were found to be enjoyable but less useful perhaps than the morning information-giving sessions - with 54% of respondents rating them as excellent/very good, 36% as good, and 9% average/poor. The afternoon action planning session received similar ratings with 54% of respondents again rating it as excellent/very good, 38% as good, and only 4% as average/poor.

Participation
The event was sufficiently well-structured and managed that those who attended really felt they could participate and have their say. When asked if they felt they could participate in discussions 88% felt they could, with only 6% saying they could not (6% missed this question on the form). Then when asked if they felt able to ask questions 74% felt they could, 6% that they couldn’t, with 20% not responding to this question owing, we believe, to a problem with the question layout on the form. The point was raised that question-

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time was cut short before lunch and this left some feeling they had questions that went unanswered.

“Would have liked more detail about commissioning process, but this provided a useful overview.” “Would have liked more about the present Camden commissioning.” “I would like to have attended all workshops” “Would have liked to have met commissioners/procurement officers.” On the practical side of things, the only recommendations for improvements included consulting individuals about having photographs taken, and taking shorter tea and coffee breaks so as to allow an earlier finishing time.

Organisation of the event
The venue was rated as excellent or very good (94%), and the organisation of the event very well regarded (97% excellent or very good) on all counts – including pre-event publicity and booking, organisation on the day, and quality and usefulness of materials. Catering was similarly highly rated.

How to improve
Very few individuals chose to make suggestions for how the event could be improved. Comments on improvement mostly related to a request for more of the same: “People have a fear barrier – they want more information – because of the fear barrier – need to work with this and keep things positive!” Please more - especially commissioning. The very term brings me out in rashes and instils horror … it terrifies me. A few suggested they would have liked more information and perhaps a wider attendance base:

Note: Full details of all evaluation comments have been fed back to VAC in a separate report and a commitment has been made to considering all aspects of this feedback when organising similar events in the future.

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9.3 FOR MORE INFORMATION
A national perspective on commissioning: Shargil Ahmad or Catherine Tyack at the Office of the Third Sector E: Shargil.Ahmad@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk or Catherine.Tyack@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk A local perspective on commissioning: Simone Hensby at Voluntary Action Camden T: 020 7284 6550 E: shensby@vac.org.uk Understanding Commissioning (and the local “Invest to Save” Project): Josh Ryan-Collins at New Economics Foundation T: 020 7820 6382 E: josh.ryan-collins@neweconomics.org Miia Chambers, Camden Social Investment Manager T: 020 7974 6379 E: miia.chambers@camden.gov.uk Measuring the Social and Economic Value of the Sector (and the local Change Up/OPM Research Project) Leigh Johnston at the Office for Public Management. T: 020 7239 7800 E: office@opm.co.uk Developing Effective Partnerships and Consortia Shivaji Shiva at Russell-Cooke Solicitors T: 020 8394 6486 W: www.russell-cooke.co.uk

A Voluntary Action Camden Conference Report

Voluntary Action Camden. Registered charity number: 802186 Company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 2388150 Registered office: 293-299 Kentish Town Road, London. NW5 2TJ.

Voluntary Action Camden. Registered charity number: 802186 Company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 2388150 Registered office: 293-299 Kentish Town Road, London. NW5 2TJ.


				
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