Cross-government reforms benefit charities and mutuals

A comprehensive package of measures to help the voluntary sector and mutuals compete for contracts to cut reoffending has been announced by the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice.

The package follows proactive engagement with a range of organisations from the voluntary sector, social enterprises and entrepreneurial staff in probation trusts looking to form new mutuals.

Many of the measures are being introduced in response to the recommendations set out in social enterprise organisation 3SC’s action plan. This follows existing support from the Cabinet Office that gives probation staff mutuals access to a £10million Mutuals Support Programme.

The measures will support new and existing providers from the voluntary, social enterprise and private sectors, radically changing the way offenders are rehabilitated through the gate and into the community, delivering better value for taxpayers through payment by results.

The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Justice are providing support to:

  • develop a financial modelling tool to enable VCSEs to assess sub-contract offers
  • provide a central legal function to check VCSE organisations’ contractual terms and conditions with main providers
  • run a series of workshops to help VCSE organisations understand the reform process and develop the vital skills they will need to compete for and deliver rehabilitation services
  • create a database of VCSEs and mutuals involved in the rehabilitation of offenders to help organisations form partnerships and consortia.

The Cabinet Office’s Mutuals Support Programme is providing intensive one-on-one support to prepare the first cohort of seven fledgling probation mutuals for competition. This includes providing professional services, such as legal, commercial and tax advice, on behalf of the potential mutuals. As well as access to the Cabinet Office’s network of commercial experts, delivering capability-building workshops and one-on-one coaching.

Separately, there will also be up to £6million available to assist VCSEs to bid for contracts or to secure social investment through the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund and at least £1million to support these organisations using social action in the rehabilitation of offenders through Cabinet Office’s Centre for Social Action.