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& public agencies


The effects of austerity and the changing nature of public service delivery and commissioning prompt the need for real, tangible improvements in cross sector working.


Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSE) deliver essential health and social care services and need to become fully included in local planning, goal setting and wider processes of transformation and modernisation. Commissioners play a key role in making this happen.


Commissioners have a key role to play in developing relationships with voluntary organisations.

Commissioning has never been more relevant to the voluntary sector. Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs), whether they operate at a local or national level, play an increasingly important role in delivering services to communities as public bodies look to non-statutory organisations to deliver local services. This shift is taking place for many reasons. These include reduced public sector financing; the policy aim of getting civil society more involved in the design and delivery of public services; and a view that the close relationships that many VCSE organisations have with beneficiaries and communities means they can make an essential contribution to the development of tailored services which improve outcomes and create a wider range of choices for commissioners.


These are seismic changes in the purpose, funding and identity of VCSE organisations, as well as to their relationships with governmental bodies. For example, VCSE organisations and commissioners are having to negotiate new structures and processes across the public sector, for example through Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships/Integrated Care Systems as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. These changes require all involved to develop new ways of partnership working. Effective cross-sector partnerships require mutual understanding and shared goals, both of which need time and sustained attention.


Barriers to cross sector collaboration


Inconsistent approaches and silo working: There are too many competing drivers and outcome frameworks for cross-sector working to meaningfully develop.


Limited capacity to engage and high risk of overlap: The social sector is diverse and tapping into community expertise can be challenging.


Lack of opportunity to explore possibilities: Tackling the issues takes time, resources and ambition.

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