Report paves way for more resilient services

Ground-breaking research commissioned by Kent County Council (KCC) sets out ways the authority, charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations (VCSE) can work better together to deliver services.

FCR is key to the smooth delivery of services for Kent’s most vulnerable residents

Undertaken as part of KCC’s Civil Society Strategy, the Full Cost Recovery (FCR) Report is attracting interest across the public sector.

With COVID accelerating a long-term decline in fundraising income, COVID emergency support ending, stretched public budgets and the cost-of-living crisis, the study formed part of an action plan developed by charity representatives charged with monitoring the pandemic’s impact on Kent’s diverse civil society, social and volunteering groups.

The Voluntary and Community Sector Recovery Cell said the issue of FCR – paying providers enough to cover the full cost of delivering a contract at the agreed quality – for charities and others had to be investigated.

The research found there were some excellent commissioning practices within KCC and strong examples of good contract management relationships. However, a lack of consistent approach and language was leading to disconnect between commissioners and providers.

As such, the report makes recommendations to help improve the Council’s existing commissioning approach, including by standardising good practice and reviewing training and development needs for anyone that undertakes contract management as part of their work.

The analysis also proposes looking at developing new models of commissioning where all involved – commissioners and providers – use their expertise and resources to design services that reflect the full cost of delivering them.

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough

Leader of Kent County Council Roger Gough said: “Local authorities, charities and voluntary groups are united in wanting residents to receive excellent services. This important research is a great example of us working together to help commissioners and providers achieve that.

“However, there are numerous complexities surrounding commissioning and there are challenges in the research findings not just for KCC but also the VCSE. Both will need to respond to shape our approach going forward.

“It is also clear that full cost recovery is not just a pressing matter for Kent, but for the country.

“Given this, and the national interest we have received in this forward-thinking report, I am keen to share the findings widely and look forward to taking the various recommendations swiftly forward.”

Sally Bagwell, Principal Strategy Lead at New Philanthropy Capital, who carried out the study for KCC, said: “Charities and community groups can be vital partners in delivering public services but tight budgets mean difficult choices. It is essential the full costs of work are covered to reduce risks for those providing and receiving such services.

“Kent County Council has taken a bold step in exploring the question of full cost recovery with its third sector partners. We welcome the authority’s commitment to acting on our recommendations and its decision to publish the research so other councils can learn from it.”

Josephine McCartney, who is also Chief Executive of the Kent Community Foundation

Josephine McCartney, Chair of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Steering Group, which works to improve engagement between KCC, civil society and the social sector, said:I would like to thank KCC for carrying out this important piece of work which highlights some of the issues that we have always known existed in terms of the approach to full cost recovery on service delivery contracts – but had never been explored in detail.

“We look forward to working with KCC on the recommendations outlined in order to address some of the challenges and ultimately reach a position of mutual understanding of how the process of commissioned services impacts both the Council and the voluntary sector.”

The Full Cost Recovery Report will be discussed at KCC Cabinet on Monday, 16 May.

To read more and watch a live webcast of the meeting visit the Kent County Council website

Report paves way for more resilient services was last modified: May 10th, 2022 by Scarlett Elworthy