VCS Assist – Building the skills of VCS to secure ESF and Big Lottery Funding
Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations face increasing challenges to maintain high–quality employment support for customers with complex needs, in a commissioning environment which is driving unit costs down and incentivising lead/prime contractors to focus on the most employable at the expense of the harder and more expensive to help. Drawing on our primary research and evidence of previous programme evaluations, our recommendation to refocus future capacity building support was accepted by London Councils and the European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU), responsible for ESF in the capital. In 2012, Rocket Science was part of a consortium of organisations, including London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC), London Training and Employment Network and the Black Training and Enterprise Group which successfully put forward a new model of technical assistance for third sector employment-related service providers.
The “VCS Assist” partners identified a range of skills and cultural changes required to ensure that providers, whatever their size or specialism, have the opportunity to adapt to the new climate and continue to meet demand for their services. The new skills needed include: articulating an offer (which may include creating delivery partnerships/consortia), pricing services competitively, developing and understanding client pathways and pitching directly to lead contractors, and delivery partners; contract negotiation and managing cash-flow in a payment–by-results system.
We are continuing to provide support and training to hep organisations prepare for the new ESF commissioning rounds 2014-2020 and working with the London Voluntary Service Council in the build up to the Building Better Opportunities Fund from the Big Lottery Fund.