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Get ready for that local

authority contract:

Summary report
February 2008
Finance Hub
c/o Charities Aid Foundation
St Andrew's House
18-20 St Andrew Street
London
EC4A 3AY
E-mail: financehub@cafonline.org
Tel: 020 7832 3016
Web: www.financehub.org.uk

SCEDU
53 Mowbray Street
Sheffield
S3 8EN
E-mail: sdt@scedu.org.uk
Tel: 0114 281 4168
Web: www.scedu.org.uk

Pelican
Consult Pelican LLP
101 Avondale Road
Wavertree
Liverpool
L15 3HF
E-mail: info@consultpelican.co.uk
Web: http://www.consultpelican.co.uk
Introduction following 2007’s comprehensive
spending review and disparate pieces
The “Get Ready for that Local of work on social clauses and
Authority Contract” work was measuring social impact, there appear
undertaken by SCEDU and partner to be different approaches used by
Pelican between September 2007 and different public sector departments
February 2008 for the Finance Hub. buying in services.

The work has produced materials It is wise to highlight that organisations


aimed at providing front line third were focussed on delivering what their
sector organisations with information customers want and not
to help them become ready to tender predominantly caught up in trying to
for public sector contracts (if that is demonstrate their social impact. The
their desired route). case studies emphasise the
importance of competing as
The work produced showcases sustainable businesses, submitting
examples of existing organisations good tender responses and delivering
involved in public sector contracting, contract requirements.
and provides an opportunity for
organisations to learn from these and The Finance Hub’s strategic outcome
glimpse what is possible. 1 aims for “VCOs to understand how
they can grow and diversify income.”
A benchmarking process has drawn
out characteristics of success from a This project responds to the need to
sample range of third sector raise awareness of and planning for
organisations supplying the public rapidly changing opportunities for
sector. These are illustrated by case smaller voluntary and community
studies of organisations that have organisations and social enterprise.
gone through the process of getting
ready and are now supply services to What
the public sector. In some cases this
includes a range of services under The Get Ready for that local authority
several contracts to customers spread contract has produced the following
across the country. In other cases it documents:
includes only one or two small and
shorter contracts to a distinct Summary report
community. Some organisations have This document
a longer trading history than others but
all started out somewhere and had the Benchmarks of success
desire for growth that has brought The findings of a benchmarking
them to their current level. process into the characteristics of
successful third sector organisations
To grow by delivering public sector that supply the public sector. The
contracts the organisations have benchmarks provide a useful picture of
invariably embraced an enterprising areas to address for organisations that
and flexible culture to spot want to ‘get ready’, and provides
opportunities, promote and sell their useful links to other materials and
services, and have efficiently resources.
managed the tendering process.
Case studies of third sector
Little direct correlation between public organisations supplying to the public
sector contracting and floor targets sector
was uncovered. Despite large Twelve case studies showing
changes being in the pipeline examples of organisations that have

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gone through the process of being General recommendations
ready for contracts and successfully
tendered for and delivered public • The benchmarks are intended
sector contracts. as a general overview as each
individual organisation will
Achieving more than just financial have distinct circumstances
impact and success and thus should plan their
A report looking at the role of floor approach carefully.
targets in the contracting process and
the possibility of establishing a • Benchmarking as a concept
‘national measure of success’ for and a mechanism is still in its
service delivery to take account of not infancy in the third sector,
just financial impacts and successes. despite longer use elsewhere.
Further detailed work into key
How factors that enable success
would provide more valuable
Third sector organisations from across information to funders of
England were contacted to develop support services, and
the case studies and draw out commissioners designing
information to provide raw data for the contracts.
benchmarking process and the report
on floor targets. An online survey was • Ascertain the value of the
conducted and consultation and benchmarks in practice with a
feedback was sought on draft work. pilot study of organisations.
Work was trialled on the weblog
http://contracting.wordpress.com as it • Raise the profile and
was produced. disseminate the findings further
to government bodies, media,
Recommendations to front line policy makers, third sector
organisations organisations and public sector
so that the findings will have a
Learning from other people’s life beyond that of the project
successes and failures can help you, and avoid future duplication.
as a front line organisation, avoid The dissemination event held
similar situations and learn from what in Sheffield, and subsequent
works. The case studies show that requests for information, show
organisations and individuals also an appetite from around the
learn from experience by trying new country for this work.
ventures, experimentation and trial
and error. • Undertake a comparative study
with a benchmarking process
If you work for, are involved with or of private sector contractors.
lead a third sector organisation
following the benchmarks of success • A long-term recommendation
will give you an idea of how your would be to develop a training
organisation shapes up compared to and support package to help
others. third sector organisations learn
about and adopt the
The document provides links to other benchmarks to aid ‘contract
resources to help with each specific readiness’.
benchmark.

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