A report examined social investment in the United Kingdom, arguing that a drive to increase social investment should not ignore the needs of charities for other forms of investment, such as affordable repayable finance. The report made recommendations for policymakers, aimed at helping charities and social enterprises to access and benefit from social investment financing.
Source: Rhodri Davies, Returns Policy? What the next decade holds for social investment, Charities Aid Foundation
A report examined the impact of spending cuts on voluntary and community sector services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual (LGBT) people in England and Wales. It said that the sector relied heavily on central and local government for funding, and was therefore particularly vulnerable to the austerity cuts, at the same time as there was an increased demand for services. The report said that cuts had led to a range of impacts on providers, such as: reduced financial reserves; greater competition within the sector for funding; reductions in services and to service levels, and difficulties in forward planning; staff cuts, and casualization of the workforce; and a greater reliance on volunteers.
Source: Fiona Colgan, Chrissy Hunter, and Aidan McKearney, 'Staying Alive': The impact of 'austerity cuts' on the LGBT voluntary and community sector (VCS) in England and Wales, Trades Union Congress/London Metropolitan University
A think-tank report said that much had been done to enable the potential of the social sector in Britain (defined as organizations such as registered charities, community interest companies, social enterprises, voluntary organizations, community organizations, or informal groups, that existed to tackle social breakdown and create a better society). However, it said more work was needed to achieve a range of broad aims, such as to increase their role in public service provision, to remove barriers for smaller organizations, to rebalance the geographical distribution of charities and resources across the country, and to enable public and business contributions across the sector. More specific recommendations included: for a new Social Innovation Fund to use dormant insurance and pension funds (estimated to amount to £400 million) to pay for new third sector ideas and to fund anti-poverty charities; for the sector to be mapped to highlight any 'cold spots' with little or no social sector activity, which were often located in the most disadvantaged areas; and for greater use of payroll giving.
Source: Social Solutions: Enabling grass-roots charities to tackle poverty, Centre for Social Justice
A report examined how the voluntary and community sector used the Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) grant fund. TLI projects ran between March 2012 and September 2013, and allowed organizations to test new ways of working, to develop new products and services to increase their own sustainability, and to provide better support to local charities and community groups. The report highlighted successful practice, and discussed barriers, difficulties, and learning points. Four case studies were published alongside the main report.
Source: Ellie Munro and Barney Mynott, Analysis of Transforming Local Infrastructure, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
The Northern Ireland Executive began consultation on proposals for a new strategy to guide the delivery of generalist advice services over the period 2015-2020. The consultation would close on 14 December 2014.
Source: 'Advising, Supporting, Empowering': A strategy for the delivery of generalist advice services in Northern Ireland 2015-2020 – A consultation paper on a strategy for the delivery of generalist advice services in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Executive
A report examined the needs of people in poverty for information, advice, and support, and how services could help to prevent, mitigate, and reduce poverty. It said that the need for advice services arose from a broad range of life events, as well as the need to engage with the state and in key markets and as a consequence of the needs of the individual users. It called for a range of measures, including: for advice provision to be embedded in services which groups of people in poverty were most likely to use in relation to major life events (such as health and welfare-to-work services); and for the government's future equality impact assessments to consider the likely impact of policy on the demand for advice. The report also discussed the impact of advice, support, and information services, called for further work to be conducted on impact measurement, and recommended for a national stakeholder group to convene to establish a business case for social investment in the sector.
Source: Damon Gibbons and Sarah Foster, Advice, Support and Poverty: Evidence review, Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
A paper provided initial findings from research that examined mental health services commissioning processes from the perspective of the public sector bodies responsible for its implementation and the third sector organizations (TSOs) who engaged with commissioners. It said that, although practice had changed to some extent, there was also considerable continuity, particularly in the importance of relationships. Many TSOs were said to welcome regular tendering as an opportunity to expand their services, but large scale changes within commissioning organizations (such as in health or social services) appeared to lead to disruption in the commissioning process and in relationships. The report concluded that commissioning was yet to fulfil its expected potential in improving outcomes for people with mental health problems, and in efficiency improvements, but it was not possible to infer whether this was caused by its, as yet, incomplete implementation, or whether the underlying principles were fundamentally flawed. It warned that, without the necessary capacity, time, and expertise, commissioning was unlikely to succeed.
Source: James Rees, Robin Miller, and Heather Buckingham, Public Sector Commissioning of Local Mental Health Services from the Third Sector, Working paper 122, Third Sector Research Centre (University of Birmingham)
A paper examined the demand for loan finance to social enterprises. The paper drew conclusions on how best to support gaps in provision without displacing existing finance.
Source: Fergus Lyon and Rob Baldock, Financing Social Ventures and the Demand for Social Investment, Working paper 124, Third Sector Research Centre (University of Birmingham)
A paper examined the viability of payment by results (PbR) as an effective method for procuring public services and, in particular, for harnessing innovation and service quality from the voluntary sector. It considered the financial and governance implications of PbR, its impact on the innovative capacity of the voluntary sector, and whether the outcomes-based commissioning model in PbR allowed for increased personalization of services to meet individuals' needs. It said that PbR could make organizations risk averse, prevent some from taking on contracts, and prevent the innovation of new ways of working. It outlined a range of problems within typical PbR models and made recommendations, including for commissioners to make use of up-front payments to ease cash-flow barriers, and provide payments for intermediate outcomes.
Source: Fiona Sheil and Ruth Breidenbach-Roe, Payment by Results and the Voluntary Sector, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
A report examined charity attitudes to social investment, the changing nature of demand for repayable finance, and the perceived barriers to accessing it. It said that 61 per cent of charities with an annual income of £60,000 or more had no experience of taking out repayable finance and no expectation of doing so in the future, whereas charities with annual incomes exceeding £1 million and with past experience of borrowing were more likely to consider future borrowing. Charities that identified as social enterprises were found to have more positive attitudes to borrowing, and borrowing intentions indicated a strong demand for unsecured lending products. The report recommended that more should be done to increase the availability of loans, particularly at lower amounts, and that social investors should play a bigger role in informing organizations about finance options, and how to access them.
Source: In Demand: The changing need for repayable finance in the charity sector, Charities Aid Foundation
An article examined changing access to welfare rights advice, and its impact on law centre services in disadvantaged areas. Although there was some evidence that professional ethics and values were being maintained, this was said to be too often at the expense of the staff concerned.
Source: Marjorie Mayo, 'Providing access to justice in disadvantaged communities: commitments to welfare revisited in neo-liberal times', Critical Social Policy, Volume 33 Issue 4
An article examined the relationship between funding sources and voluntary organizations' achievement of their primary social objectives. It said there was a negative relationship between income from trading activities and the achievement of objectives, although in the case of income from public sector contracts there was not a significant link.
Source: Piers Thompson and Robert Williams, 'Taking your eyes off the objective: the relationship between income sources and satisfaction with achieving objectives in the UK third sector', Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, Volume 25 Number 1