In July 2010, Chris White MP tabled a Private Members’ Bill that calls for all public sector commissioning to factor in social value. This Friday will witness the third reading of the bill and if passed, the proposed legislation presents a great opportunity for social enterprise to deliver more public services which will provide a well needed injection of finance into the third sector at a time ofsevere cuts. Concerns around this social public service delivery (raised by the un-informed naysayers) suggest that the Third Sector couldn’t possibly deliver a good service for society. Indeed,some Third Sector organisations are dispelling the prospect of delivery by the very nature of the robust and challenging procurement and evaluation process, as argued on the Practical Law Company blog:
“Policy through procurement has the ability to confuse rather than actually achieve any significant impact; procurement officers are best focused on the mechanics of the process rather than looking at the wider picture.”
…With this in mind, I feel that this is the opportune moment to draw the spotlight onto the Transition Institute. The Transition Institute is an independent centre for research that inspires and facilitates new models of public service delivery embedding innovation and social value in the structures. Social Enterprise London and NESTA co-founded the Transition Institute. It is based upon conversations with passionate supporters of public services, shaped about the need for informed, impartial debate about new emerging structures. They have focused their work on understanding the success of public sector spin out organisations such as Your Healthcare and NAViGO. What the Transition Institute has tried to achieve so far is a better understanding of how these successful spin-out organisations have realised their current success – in order to be able to capture and disseminate the information and support re-shaped public services which create the maximum possible social value. As Jillian Oxenham and Dom Potter of the Institute explain here, “Our focus on the transition process of spinning out is revealing a number of emerging themes such as the importance of leadership, staff empowerment and the need for peer support.”
This is a practical and worthwhile initiative which will bring much guidance and expertise with little cost to social organisations thinking about dipping their toes into the public sector delivery pool (as well as ensuring that the proposals on offer are fit for delivery). Do you agree?