As Voluntary, Community & Social Enterprise (VCSE) Crown Representative, Claire Dove CBE acts as an intermediary between government and the charity and social enterprise sectors to champion the Social Value Act and secure an improvement in commissioning practices. As a key player in the social enterprise movement for over 40 years she brings a wealth of experience to the role.
In this blog, Claire explains why engaging charities and social enterprises in government supply chains is so important, and how DCMS is leading the way by creating the first bespoke commercial VCSE Action Plan.
Through the Social Value Act, government has committed to diversifying its supply chains by taking into account a supplier’s social impact, as well as price, when awarding public contracts.
The 250,000 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations across the UK are in a unique position to deliver social value; they are embedded in communities and have expert local knowledge that can create better and more compassionate public services.
My role as the VCSE Crown Representative is to be the VCSE sector’s representative within government, acting as a champion for the sector and advocating for the pivotal role the sector has in delivering contracts in our communities. As part of this, I have been focused on giving charities and social enterprises the skills and confidence they need to bid for government contracts and sub-contracting opportunities.
We have previously developed a suite of guidance and are about to launch the VCSE Contract Readiness programme to enable the sector to work with government. So the next part of the jigsaw was to educate civil servants about the benefits of engaging charities and social enterprises in government’s supply chains and the steps they can take to encourage VCSEs to engage in our commercial pipelines.
To achieve this, I’ve been advising the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – who are His Majesty’s government lead for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) policy – as they created government’s first bespoke VCSE Action Plan.
In the plan, DCMS commits to improving its awareness of VCSEs in its sectors and the markets it purchases from, aiming to increase their appetite to participate in procurement bids and reduce barriers to entry.
This will not only provide charities and social enterprises with much deserved recognition for their positive contribution to society, but also ensures we tap into the additional social benefits that can be achieved by engaging them in government supply chains.
The purpose and ambition of the plan is to create a foundation of best practice to be adopted and improved across government. I very much look forward to continuing to work with the department to help support them in achieving their goals.
Read the DCMS VCSE Action Plan
Find the DCMS Commercial Pipeline
Find guidance on working with gGovernment
The VCSE Action Plan complements the existing SME Action Plan which aims to engage more small and medium sized business enterprises in the DCMS supply chain.