Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Representative

Claire Dove CBE


As VCSE Representative, Claire acts as an intermediary between the Government and the voluntary and social enterprise sectors to champion the Social Value Act and an improvement in commissioning practices. Claire was appointed as VCSE Crown Representative in February 2018. As a key player in the social enterprise movement for over 40 years she brings a wealth of experience to the role.

Claire nationally and internationally is known for her work in the sector and for ten years chaired Social Enterprise UK. She worked with government and leaders from the sector to create the first strategy for the Social Enterprise movement. She ensured that Social Enterprises had a voice within Westminster and Whitehall, this included working with the teams to introduce the Social Value Act which is now embedded into many local government frameworks and worked with Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop the Social Value Model. After stepping down as chair of Social Enterprise UK Claire became a patron to the organisation.

Claire led the highly successful Blackburne House Group, until she retired in July 2020. Blackburne House offers an outstanding educational offer to women alongside running its award-winning School for Social Entrepreneurship and highly successful social enterprises.

Claire has received many awards for her role within the sector, which includes an MBE, OBE and also the Queens Lifetime achievement award for Enterprise promotion. Claire was once again honoured in the 2020 New Year’s honours list with a CBE.

On her appointment Claire said:

“It’s an honour to take on this role. Millions of people benefit from the work that charities and social enterprises do and I cannot wait to get started to ensure this sector continues to go from strength to strength.”

Claire’s work in her role as VCSE Crown Representative includes:

  • Enabling a thriving voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to work towards the public sector having a diverse range of suppliers that includes the VCSE sector
  • Working with industry and sector experts to identify and reduce barriers to VCSE participation in public service markets - including those small and medium sized
  • Raising awareness of and strengthening and improving the use of the Social Value Act in central government and the wider public sector
  • Chairing regular meetings with the VCSE sector, including the VCSE Crown Representative Advisory Panel, which brings together key stakeholders from the VCSE sector to facilitate discussions regarding the general state of the sector, and what government is working on in regards to procurement, funding, and spending. The panel members are as follows: Alastair Wilson - CEO, School of Social Entrepreneurs, Chris White - Director, Institute for Industrial Strategy, King’s College London, Gina Rowlands – Director of Bevan Healthcare, Kathy Evans - CEO, Children England, Kunle Olulode​ - Director for Voice4Change England, Muna Yassin - Managing Director, Fair Money Advice, Pauline Broomhead - ​Founding CEO at Foundation for Social Investment, Peter Holbrook​ CBE - CEO of Social Enterprise UK, Rachel Woolliscroft​ - Director at BayNel, Sarah Crawley - CEO of ​Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, Veronica Daly ​- Chief Procurement Officer at King’s College London, Vicky Browning - CEO, ACEVO, Will Nixon, Deputy Group Chief Executive, Aspire Housing,
  • Chairing the BAME Commissioning Taskforce, which primarily focuses on commissioning and BAME communities
  • Chairing the Women’s Roundtable, which meets with the VCSE Crown Representative for the purpose of increasing engagement with grassroots women’s organisations, focusing on how to remove barriers in procurement, contracting, and funding for women’s organisations sector-wide

Claire wants to work collaboratively with VCSEs and wider civil society to draw on their knowledge and expertise. To make the most of these opportunities make sure you follow Claire on Twitter for updates @VCSECrownRep.

VCSEs: a bidder’s guide to working with government

Claire has commissioned this guidance document for VCSEs looking to work with central and local government.

Social Value Model (PPN 06/20)

This note sets out how to take account of social value in the award of central government contracts by using the Social Value Model.

Reserving below threshold procurements for VCSE organisations (PPN 11/20)

This note sets out the options that may be considered by Contracting Authorities when procuring contracts for goods, services and works with a value below the applicable thresholds.

Contracts Finder

Register with Contracts Finder to keep updated on new and upcoming contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies.

Public Procurement Review Service

If you have a concern you’d like to raise about the procurement process or a problem with payment on a public contract you can let us know via the Public Procurement Review Service, and they will investigate for you.

Government’s Prompt Payment Policy

To find out more about the measures introduced by the government to tackle late and unfair payment practices in the public sector click here.


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Social Value Act: information and resources

The Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force on 31 January 2013. It requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits.

Before they start the procurement process, commissioners should think about whether the services they are going to buy, or the way they are going to buy them, could secure these benefits for their area or stakeholders.

The Act is a tool to help commissioners get more value for money out of procurement. It also encourages commissioners to talk to their local provider market or community to design better services, often finding new and innovative solutions to difficult problems.

You can find case studies on social value implementation and measurement here.

New measures to ensure social value is explicitly evaluated in central government contracts was announced on 24 September 2020 by the Cabinet Office. You can find information on this here.

The new model mandates that Social Value should be explicitly evaluated in all central government procurement - rather than just ‘considered’ as stipulated in the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. This is a huge step in ensuring the government’s purchasing power is used to benefit society and will help make public service markets accessible to a more diverse range of suppliers, including VCSEs. The measures came into effect on 1st January 2021 and are mandatory for all central government contracts over the Public Contracts Regulations thresholds.

Government departments use the Social Value model to assess & score suppliers on the positive social benefits they bring. This change will ensure taxpayers’ money supports levelling up across the country in an extremely positive way & help support our Covid-19 recovery.

The launch of the new Social Value model presents a fantastic opportunity to strengthen VCSE involvement in public sector supply markets whilst demonstrating governments continued commitment to expand the use of the Public Services Act 2012 across central government. Find out more information here.

How to become a Crown Commercial Service Supplier

Read how to become a supplier through the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and our simpler application processes. CCS offers a range of agreements through which central government departments and wider public sector organisations can purchase common goods and services. Find out more here.

Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Representative

The VCSE Representative acts as an intermediary between government and the voluntary sector to champion the Social Value Act and an improvement in commissioning practices.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Office for Civil Society