See the news from our projects and the sector for 2018 second quarter:

An opportunity for the voice of the VCS to be heard!

During June and July 2018, all eight councils in Northamptonshire held a joint public consultation into future local government reform in Northamptonshire, focusing on the two-unitary model – this was the only option which met all of the Government’s criteria following the Best Value Inspection of NCC earlier this year.

A proposal has been put forward for two unitary councils: West Northamptonshire, comprising the current area of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire; and North Northamptonshire, comprising the current areas of Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

The proposal was agreed and submitted to the Secretary of State on 31 August.

This is obviously a time of great change for all communities in Northamptonshire and it is important that the impact of these changes are understood.

We would like to understand the impact these changes will have on the voluntary sector and this survey will help to gain people's views about these changes. The results will be fed into a countywide report which will then be presented to decision makers as part of the process to feed into their thinking about the future two unitary authorities.

To complete the survey click here.

Commsortia Review 2017-2018

As we start a new membership year, it is a good time to review what has happened over the past 12 months.

The ESF Building Better Opportunities programme is on track and although we have seen a few staff changes and delivery partner withdrawals, the programme is starting to really help and support people. Previous government funded programmes looked at getting people into work and/or training and paid providers on results. This programme allows our delivery partners to really work with people and look at reducing those barriers to engagement. We are also currently looking at the next round of ESF funding that has just been released and will be looking at formulating a response over the coming weeks. 

As part of our BBO Programme development and looking forward to the next round of funding we have taken on two new staff members and changed a previous role to reflect the changes in the programme. Jaime Norris who was initially employed as the Business Liaison Officer is now Project Officer with responsibility to feed participants into the programme and support them through their journey into employment, training or volunteering. She is joined by Rebecca James, Progression Officer, who will be covering the North of the county to support prospective participants engaging with delivery partners and stakeholders. Finally, Alice Kelly was appointed as the BBO Administrator in March 2018 and she will handle all administrative duties relating to participant enrolment as well as supporting Bronagh Hawkin (Project Co-ordinator) in managing the programme.  

As you are all aware, First for Wellbeing will be moving back into NCC in September and as such our Social Wellbeing Contract will be novated over to them. This has presented us with a few challenges these past months with new commissioners and a new directorate. We have worked very hard in representing the work that our members are doing in supporting some of our most vulnerable members of society. We have clearly evidenced the social return on investment that this contract brings and we have fought hard to get commissioners and policy makers to acknowledge the added value element. However, commissioners have informed us that there will be a variation and as such two service lines were cut, as these were seen as being non-compliant with Public Health outcomes, which is where the contract will now sit. This means that the contract value has been reduced and that there will be a change to specification after September 2018.

However, we were recently informed that after some serious protestations from us, two areas relating to work which fell under the two cut service lines have been reconsidered to be compliant and funds will be reinstated. As I write, we continue to negotiate with commissioners and will be looking at other sources of funding that might mitigate the effects of this cut on the remaining organisations, and we will try and keep all of you informed.      

As you can see, it’s been a mixed year and our tagline ‘Stronger Together’ has never been more pertinent. Therefore, we do hope that members will renew their membership for 2018 – 2019 as our success in navigating some of these challenges is only possible due to your involvement and support.

In closing, I would like to thank all our members for your support and look forward to working with you over the next 12 months.

Dion Hunt

Commsortia Manager