DCMS blog

VCSE Crown Rep Christmas Blog

Claire Dove


Claire Dove

VSCE Crown Rep

As we begin the festive season, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the challenges and successes of the past year and look forward to an exciting year ahead. 

Reflections on 2023

Throughout 2023 VCSEs have continued to deal with a challenging environment as our communities contend with the impacts of the ongoing Cost of Living situation and high inflation. I am working closely with stakeholders to raise awareness of these pressures in government and to consider solutions. I have, however, been inspired by how charities and social enterprises have continued their vital work in this difficult landscape. 

I have been delighted to see great progress this year in our aims to increase opportunities and address barriers to VCSEs participating in public procurement:

  • The VCSE Contract Readiness Programme launched in April and has seen high levels of demand. This is being delivered by School for Social Entrepreneurs in consortium with Social Enterprise UK and Voice4Change England. I have been pleased to see its success to date – participants have reported increased confidence in their knowledge and skills around bidding for public sector contracts.
  • 2023 also saw the permanent launch of the innovative Find a Grant service, which provides a central platform for organisations to efficiently find and apply for government grants. I would encourage everyone to make use of this helpful tool.
  • We have had a productive year with the Cross-Government VCSE Commissioning Taskforce. Two government departments published their VCSE Action Plans: DCMS and the Ministry of Justice, recognising the significant value of partnering with VCSEs. We are continuing to work with a further three departments including the Department for Health and Social Care and Crown Commercial Service to support their progress in the New Year. 

What’s coming in 2024?

Looking forward to next year, there are a number of developments that will promote better engagement between VCSEs and government in public procurement:

  • We plan to bring in additional departments to the Cross-Government VCSE Commissioning Taskforce. This will provide further data on VCSE engagement and new commitments to working with VCSEs across government.
  • We are planning to launch a VCSE Business Hub on GOV.UK. This will outline how government is engaging with the sector on a strategic level on procurement, bring together relevant government guidance, and house the latest information on each government department’s VCSE procurement and engagement plans. I look forward to sharing more on this with you in the New Year.
  • The Procurement Act is expected to come into effect from October 2024. This will make it easier for VCSEs to enter public sector supply chains, including through improved transparency requirements. I hope to see this positively impact VCSEs by breaking down barriers in public procurement.

We also hope to bring you news very soon into the new year about the DCMS VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme, so keep a look out for announcements on this. 

Despite the challenges our sector has faced over the past year, I remain optimistic that, with the right support and opportunities, the sector can continue to partner with government to provide incredible public services and lift up communities across the country. As ever, we are so thankful to you for the fantastic work that the sector has achieved and look forward to working together in 2024. 

Social and Environmental Value continues to play a central part in government’s procurement and I was so pleased to present the Social Value award at our Commercial Departments annual Awards at the end of last month. Our winner was a procurement from the Ministry of Defence which will create over £100m in Social Value.

I would like to say thank you to members of our VCSE Advisory Panel and our Diversity Commissioning Taskforces in their ongoing support and for continuing to bring the voice of the sector into the heart of government. I would also like to thank our VCSEs for the work you do within our communities up and down the country bringing vital services and support to our communities.  

I wish you all a restful and joyous Christmas

Claire Dove, CBE

VCSE Crown Representative

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