Press release

Cabinet Office launches masterclasses for voluntary sector

New workshops announced to help charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises make use of opportunities to work for government.

Friday 14 December 2012

Charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises (VCSEs) will have the chance to attend a series of new practical workshops to help them capitalise on opportunities to work for government, Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd announced today. 

The government has devised the masterclass programme to help the voluntary sector to strengthen its commercial skills, and bid successfully for public service contracts. It underlines the government’s commitment to enable the sector to have greater involvement in running public services, as it believes that civil society organisations can bring huge value to shaping and delivering future services. 

The masterclasses will be developed in partnership between government and voluntary and private sector organisations. VCSE organisations will be primarily responsible for developing the masterclasses, promoting them successfully, and making sure they are relevant to the needs of the sector audience. Meanwhile, the private sector will provide pro-bono commercial expertise and share its experiences in tendering for large government contracts.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

We want to improve the quality of public services, and the voluntary sector has a vital role to play in this. More opportunities are opening up for charities and social enterprises than ever before, and these new masterclasses will make sure these organisations do not miss out.

This initiative complements our upcoming Commissioning Academy and is designed to support intelligent public sector commissioning that is sensitive to the needs of civil society.

Targeted at managers and trustees responsible for tendering in VCSEs, the classes will develop key skills across a range of areas. This will include writing winning bids, adjusting to changes in the tender process, developing consortia, and financial skills, such as how to profile and manage risks. Taking place from next year, the workshops will be held regionally across England, to maximise impact and make sure everyone benefits.

This commitment is outlined in a new Making it easier for civil society to work with the state paper, published this week by Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd. It outlines the government’s determination to enable the voluntary sector to have much greater involvement in the running of public services. A range of measures shows that real progress has already been made, but Government recognises this is still an early stage of a challenging journey, and is working closely with the sector on how best to create more space for civil society in the public services market. 

Notes to editors

  1. On 13 December 2012, the government published Making it easier for civil society to work with the state - a progress update. This paper outlines the progress government has made against its commitment to support the creation and expansion of mutuals, co-operatives, charities and social enterprises, and enable these groups to have much greater involvement in the running of public services.
  2. Government is supporting intelligent commissioning through the upcoming Commissioning Academy, a programme designed to support capable and confident senior public-sector staff to commission in a way that is sensitive to the needs of civil society.

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