Full cost recovery in VCSE contracts

Research into the experiences of Kent County Council’s VCSE partners in public service commissioning

Charities and community groups can be vital partners in delivering public services, using their knowledge, trust, and ability to act nimbly and innovatively to achieve better outcomes for service users and taxpayers. It’s essential that the full costs of this work are covered, so we’re delighted to have worked with Kent County Council to explore how to achieve this.

We’ll soon be publishing a full policy brief on how these lessons apply to the wider local government sector. This work matters because not covering the full cost of contracts brings risks to the people who rely on those services, not just those providing them. Such risks are magnified by the cost of living crisis, as pressures on charity income and on communities mount up.

Through our research we found practical tweaks which could help providers make good decisions around full cost recovery within the traditional commissioning model, especially around how overheads are budgeted for. Tight budgets mean difficult strategic choices will still remain, so we recommend a collaborative approach to navigating these.

Ultimately councils and voluntary groups across Britain share the same goal of ensuring that people in their communities enjoy excellent services. We hope our research helps commissioners and providers to work together to achieve that.

Look out for our upcoming policy brief on the wider lessons for the local government sector by signing up to our newsletter and following us on Twitter.

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