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Five ways to get your charity fit for devolution

By Katherine Rake 7 June 2016

The devolution deal for Manchester continues to grab headlines, and a bucket load of attention from Whitehall—be that speeches about the northern powerhouse, or new initiatives like the Life Chances fund announced in the most recent budget.

A quick look behind the headlines reveals many other forms of devolution quietly changing the landscape of policy, services and commissioning across the country. Cornwall Council, for example, has gained new powers to oversee health and social care along with employment and culture. North West London, meanwhile, is taking a whole system approach to commissioning and provision. And many are in the process of creating Accountable Care Organisations—partnerships of providers and, often, commissioners working to a single set of outcomes.

Whatever the form of devolution, there is a recognition that the charity sector has to not only be part of the conversation, but a partner in delivering and transforming services. NPC recently highlighted the enormous strengths that the voluntary sector can bring to health and care transformation in their report Untapped potential, commissioned by the Richmond Group of Charities.

So the canny charity leader will be preparing their organisation to ensure it is devolution ready. To get you started, here are five key questions you should be asking ask yourself to ensure you get the best from the new deals being made across the country.

  1. Do you have a strategy that is fit for devolution?

How important is devolution for your beneficiaries? Are you clear about what this means for your nationally as well as how you will respond locally or regionally?

  1. Do you have the insight to make the strategy a reality?

Do you know enough about priorities across the country? Are you keeping track of the concerns of the newly devolved authorities?

  1. Do you have the relationships required?

How strong are your relationships with local decision makers? Where are the gaps and how are you going to fill them?

  1. Do you have the tactics that will deliver what is required?

What is your approach to partnership for new contracts? How risk averse is your organisation? Do you want to be an early pioneer, or follow on when the path is clearer?

  1. Are you clear about your unique offer and what you would not do?

From campaigns to services, do you know where you are best placed to make a difference? What are your red line issues or areas best left to others?

For charity leaders, figuring out how to make the most of a landscape that is changing before your eyes can seem like a huge challenge. But get your organisation’s devolution strategy right, and you will have an unprecedented opportunity to work in a new form of partnership with the public sector, and to play your part in transforming services for your beneficiaries.

If you’re interested in hearing more on this topic, there will be a breakout session at NPC Ignites on charities and the devolution landscape. Find out more via the conference website.