Commissioning & public services

Working to ensure bidding and commissioning practices are fair and inclusive.


Commissioning is one of the most discussed issues in our regional CEO forums. Members report unfair and opaque commissioning that is focused on a race to the bottom line.

Our vision

Commissioning decisions should be made in consultation with both third sector providers and service users. The commissioning process should allow sufficient time for collaborative submissions and social value should be considered. Equal value should be placed on prevention and provision of acute services.

Rebalancing the relationship

A major new project aims to rebalance the relationship between large and small voluntary organisations in public services.

Collaborative work between ACEVO, NCVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, will explore how voluntary organisations of different sizes can work better together in bidding for and delivering public services.

The move follows concern that smaller organisations are being squeezed out of public service delivery, in part by the practices of larger organisations as well as by commissioning and procurement processes. There are also concerns that, as a result, smaller organisations are struggling to survive with many facing closure. The project will explore the extent to which this is the case and any drivers behind it by listening to large and small voluntary organisations.

The project, known as ‘Rebalancing the Relationship’, aims to ‘look under the bonnet’ of current bidding and commissioning practices. A call for evidence to be launched in coming weeks will seek views from the sector. This evidence, combined with further desk-based and qualitative research, will form the basis of a research report expected in the autumn.

The report will inform a series of engagement events with voluntary organisations to develop recommendations to improve current practices, which will be the subject of a consultation with the sector, ahead of a final report early next year. The interim report and draft recommendations have been published on 27 February and available on NCVO’s website

While the project will consider the wider commissioning environment, the partners expect the focus of their recommendations to be on how organisations themselves can take action to improve how they work with others.

The work will be overseen by a small steering group made up of the project partners and individuals with expertise in leading both large and small voluntary organisations.

The project is now entering consultation phase for some of the recommendations due to come out of the project, and we are running a consultation event for CEOs or senior leaders of charities with experience of delivering commissioned services to feed back on the draft recommendations.

If you cannot attend the event, an online consultation will be opened soon, along with other engagement opportunities to submit feedback. Please email Maisie if you have any questions.

  • When: 3 March, 2pm-4pm
  • Where: NCVO, All Saints Street

RSVP: please email Maisie on, and she will confirm your place and circulate further information. Spaces on the event are limited.

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