Proving your worth to Whitehall

16 August 2010

The Treasury has recently posed a series of tough questions to government departments, aimed at paving the way for getting rid of ‘non-essential’ government services. They are, in the words of one journalist, ‘brutal’.

At NPC we’re encouraging charities to tackle these questions head-on in the second of our ‘NPC perspectives’ series, Proving your worth to Whitehall. We believe that doing so can help charities to build a stronger case for survival in the case of cuts. It could even help them to prove their potential for being scaled up, as discussed in NPC’s recent report Scaling up for the Big Society.

We’ve looked to show that these questions can be filled in by charities, by answering them on behalf of the project Volunteers in Child Protection (ViCP), run by the charity CSV. While we don’t claim that our answers for ViCP to the Treasury’s questions are perfect we think they’re a good start.

ViCP is a great project that matches volunteers with families where a child has been put on the Child Protection Register. ViCP’s volunteers help families stabilise and keep children off the Register. To date, the charity reports that none of the children who have been helped by its volunteers have been put back on to the register. The project has big cost-savings. It costs as much as £40,000 to develop a child protection plan, and that is just the start of it. Looking after a child away from his or her family is very expensive. For one child, foster care costs £489 a week, and a children’s home costs almost £2,500 a week. In contrast, CSV estimates that it costs £2,400 to match a family with a volunteer for a year. Rather than potentially cutting projects like ViCP, government should in our eyes be looking to scale it up.

Our hope is that membership bodies like NCVO and Acevo will take these questions lain out in Proving your worth to Whitehall and encourage their members to answer them. By then collecting the answers we think these membership bodies can help to provide a more compelling narrative for the sector in the face of cuts.

P.S. On a totally separate note, following the recent floods in Pakistan, The Big Give’s Emergency Fund sponsors are offering to double donations to the flood appeals. To donate visit