Latest Posts

21-25 May: Third Sector Fundraising Conference 2018

Third Sector’s Fundraising Week 2018 will deliver two inspiring days of insight at the Fundraising Conference, celebrate success at the Business Charity Awards and create a great debate at Big Questions Live. They will also celebrate newcomers to the sector at The Next Generation Awards.

The week is skilfully designed with the busy schedule of the charity professional in mind, offering an exciting mix of networking events, workshops, keynotes, awards, debate and much more over a five-day period from 21-25 May.

For more details and to book your place follow this the link.

Working Wales tender launched

The Welsh Government have launched their Working Wales tender, which will replace a number of existing programmes, including Jobs Growth Wales, ReAct, Traineeships and the Employability Skills Programme. The service aims to support people of all ages to overcome barriers and gain the skills to achieve and maintain good quality, sustainable employment. The provision will be funded for a period of up to seven years, will have an expected value in the first year of £56 million, and will be let in seven lots. 3SC are talking to a number of bidders and hope to be in a position to develop a delivery partnership as the bid progresses.

MOJ procurement event planned for August

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have just released a prior information notice confirming their intention to open a procurement event for providers to register and prequalify for delivery through the Prison Education Dynamic Procurement System (DPS). The idea is that required provision can then be commissioned through call offs from the DPS. The MoJ have indicated that up to £100 million of provision will be commissioned via this approach; the tender event is planned to open on 6 August this year.

Andy Schofield

Interview: Andy Schofield

Andy Schofield sits on the Executive Committee of 3SC, but he also runs Cocreate, which has a Partnership agreement with 3SC, providing services relating to impact. According to Schofield, “we help organisations think clearly about the difference they make. Context really matters. It’s pretty much impossible to have a ‘one-size fits all approach’. Let’s take a good example. A bunch of people gets together to try to solve a challenge that they believe is worth solving. They bring their experience, some assumptions, and some knowledge about their area. It could be youth work in an east London borough. Youth work in an east London borough won’t necessarily operate in the ways that youth work might work in Liverpool. What we do is help organisations think about those differing contexts.”

Taking a more structured approach to getting people and organisations to think about what they are doing, and what impact they might have, is at the heart of Cocreate’s methods.

So why join in a Partnership with 3SC? Says Schofield: “It’s partly about reach – 3SC is working with a lot of different organisations, and we probably would not be able to work with them otherwise. While there’s obviously a financial driver there, there’s also an impact one. Cocreate is like a lot of other entities – we are relatively small but we have got a lot of good materials and people. Finding other groups and organisations that we can work with has tended to be by word of mouth and network effects. Partnering with an organisation like 3SC, which is already working with people we would like to work with, makes obvious good sense and is exciting.”

Schofield adds that he is “excited by what 3SC is doing. I’ve kept an eye on it for quite a long time. I like the idea of ecologies of scale and I’ve got enough experience of public sector markets to see that the big solutions don’t work. The evidence is there, that we need something else. But equally, to expect small organisations to go through all the hoops you need to operate at scale is very tricky. Having something that brings those things together, like 3SC, is very exciting.”

He is particularly invigorated by the idea of impact-as-loop; organisations want to effect social change, they try various strategies and see what works, and feed back into their practices both successful and unsuccessful results.  “3SC has the potential to act as an ‘ecosystem’ for solving interesting problems in concert with other organisations. As you try to solve one problem you uncover others – the idea that any one organisation has a monopoly on good ideas is naïve,” he says.

Becoming a partner with 3SC “was a much more personal experience” than Schofield was anticipating. “I’ve seen plenty of PQQ’s [pre-qualification questionnaires] in my time and it was nothing like that. Most small organisations in my experience have a compliance ‘lag’ – they’re focused on getting the work in. They lag behind on the systems and processes, their data, their compliance. Those things will generally come back to haunt them, especially if they want to work with a significant local authority – some of those questions will get asked. I think the 3SC membership offer can help solve quite a lot of those ‘lag’ problems that smaller organisations simply don’t have time to cope with, but to which they need to pay attention. Think of the amount of work involved with GDPR at the moment. If you can remove that kind of obstacle, it’s a kind of insurance policy as well as showing your robustness and capability. Combining that with new services that 3SC can offer – like impact – should make smaller social sector organisations even stronger and more appealing.”

John Swinney

Welcome to our May issue

This month sees another milestone on the path of 3SC’s regeneration, in the form of the publication of a thought leadership document – our Position Paper #1 – which questions the way in which public sector procurement currently works. This paper is to be launched at a House of Commons event on 22 May; places are now scarce but if you would like to attend please get in touch. To question is easy; to suggest practicable solutions is tough; but Position Paper #1 throws into the mix some ideas which we believe are sensible.

This month’s 3SC Impact carries an interview with one of our Executive Committee members, Andy Schofield, on why his company has formed a Partnership with 3SC; we hope that it goes some way to inspire others to do the same.

Among the issues touched on in this edition is that of 3SC’s new membership offer – get in touch with us and learn how our expertise can clear the distracting clutter and can help you grow. It is hard to slog away at worthwhile change, particularly if your organisation is already running at full speed, as Andy Schofield suggests. Collaboration and the pooling of ideas and resources is the way forward.

John Swinney, Chair of 3SC.

homeless person

Youth homelessness

The charity Homeless published a report which claimed, among other matters, that welfare reforms are contributing to homelessness among people aged between 16 and 24. They find themselves facing landlords who often prefer older, more settled tenants, and have lower rates of housing benefit entitlements; young people’s Housing Benefit entitlement is restricted to the cost of a renting a single room in a shared house, and young people also receive a lower rate of income support within Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit. It says that life in the private rented sector is especially tough for young people, who “face higher risks of poverty, lower security of tenure and increasing rent levels.” Finding reliably accurate and comprehensive data for youth homelessness is difficult – nobody knows how many young people are without a home in the UK. Many may well be ‘hidden homeless’, i.e. sleeping on someone’s floor, remaining out of sight in squats, or similar situations that elude statistical reports.

According to the report, being homeless is far from the only problem. Being unemployed and with low skill-levels compound matters and, in turn, the isolation and sense of hopelessness can create mental health difficulties. Other problems include substance misuse, a lack of social integration, and the collapse of family ties. One factor that might ease the situation is that the Government said (on 29 March this year) that all 18-21 year-olds would be entitled to housing costs within universal credit; but longer-term, more integrated solutions are required, ones that help restore young people’s sense of purpose and belief in a positive future.



Foodbanks: the demand keeps rising

The Trussell Trust – the charity that runs two-thirds of the UK’s foodbanks, 428 in total – says that for the past year (up to the end of March) the number of people seeking help from its foodbanks rose by a record 13% compared to the previous year. The Trust requires a referral from a job centre or similar body, such as a housing association or GP.

Most disturbing is that 28% of all referrals to its foodbanks were because the individuals’ benefits were insufficient to cover the cost of essentials; 24% of referrals were due to delays in receiving benefits, while 18% were due to changes in benefits. Foodbanks that have been in full universal credit rollout areas for a year or more shows that they experienced an average increase of 52% of referrals in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area. Analysis of foodbanks either not in full universal credit areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13%. Half to two thirds of food bank users who took part in the report ended up using a foodbank due to problems with the benefits system.

The charity calls for benefit levels to be uprated in line with inflation and for “an urgent enquiry into poor administration within universal credit.” Emma Revie, the Trust’s chief executive, said: “For too many people, staying above water is a daily struggle.” The number of parcels handed out at Trussell Trust foodbanks has risen from fewer than 3,000 to 1.2 million today. A report in 2014 argued that many food bank users faced multiple challenges, including ill-health, relationship breakdown, mental health problems or substantial caring responsibilities, and that many were unable to work or had recently lost their job. 3SC’s contract delivery includes third sector organisations who help find work for the unemployed, the disadvantaged, and those who are struggling with the multiplicity of problems faced by many people today – including having sufficient resources to adequately feed a family.

3sc website on ipad

3SC Membership

3SC is moving to implementing a subscription membership offer, the full details of which will be published shortly. Third sector organisations who want to become involved in the delivery of public services, and need help in areas such as bid development and tender writing; social outcome and impact evaluation; development and implementation of performance management systems and frameworks; problem solving; strategic development and operational planning; media support; IT/software consultancy; and the provision of training will be able to enlist 3SC’s support. 3SC has lengthy experience of bringing together small social enterprises to have greater muscle when it comes to bidding for public tenders, and it has decided to widen the benefits for those who decided they wish to become full members of its network. Third sector delivery organisations will also be able to join 3SC’s Preferred Provider List giving them first access to become a delivery partner in all new business opportunities. Further details can be obtained from

man in hoody

HMI: probation supply chains

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation published its report into Probation Supply Chains, reviewing the provision of specialist services for people under probation supervision, and also how subcontracting between Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and organisations that provide these services is working. 3SC is a partner in Purple Futures, which manages five CRCs in Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire and Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In 2015, with the introduction of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, there was an expectation that the third sector would play a key role in probation services. Whilst all of Purple Futures CRCs have a third sector supply chain managed by 3SC delivering rehabilitative services, almost four years on, this expectation has not been realised nationally. It seems that “the third sector is less involved than ever in probation services, despite its best efforts; yet, many under probation supervision need the sector’s specialist help, to turn their lives around” says the report – which adds that this is “an exasperating situation”. Partly this is due to the ambition of the programme and the speed at which it was introduced, but there has also been a conceptual problem, which is that “there was never any one national body responsible for the stewardship of specialist services across the country.” And although the National Probation Service was expected to purchase services from the CRCs, they have not or not as much as thought likely, partly because “professional probation staff do not see themselves as purchasers, and most do not want to be.” Four years into this new programme the report gives a picture of overall patchy success, with frustrations at a high level but greater success the further one goes down the chain; for example, “we judged that in more than two-thirds of cases, the supply chain worker or mentor had made a positive difference to the rehabilitation of service users.” One of the recommendations of the report is that CRCs “should continue to improve the evidence base that demonstrates the effectiveness of service delivery by Tier 2 and 3 providers, in achieving identifiable outcomes.” Purple Futures, made up of 3SC and other partners, remains committed to the third sector delivering rehabilitative services, recognising the benefits that these services make to reducing offending.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

European Union building, Brussels

GDPR – get prepared

Brexit or no Brexit, 25 May is the date from which organisations that do not comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may face heavy fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover, or €20 million, the maximum level that can be imposed for the most serious infringements. The regulation applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location. It’s likely that, even after Brexit, the UK government will implement an equivalent legal mechanism. The regulation applies to both digital and paper-held data. Anyone can issue a subject access request (SAR) which gives companies 30 days to list the data they hold. A detailed SAR will ask for a copy of all personal information; details of how it has been used; a list of the third parties with whom it has been shared; how long it has been stored; and details of any data breach.

The main issue here is consent: to comply with the new regulations, companies must be able to provide clear requests for consent to use their personal data for communications. GDPR should mean that organisations are no longer able legally to send out unsolicited marketing material. Opt-out boxes will no longer be enough; you will need to build into your marketing communications an opt-in process, by which a recipient is required to give their consent to being communicated with. This consent, it’s worth noting, can be withdrawn.

In the UK the GDPR will be ‘policed’ by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). While the ICO has said there will not be any ‘grace period’, it is unlikely to stamp hard on any organisation that can show it is putting the appropriate measures in place to enable compliance.


Councils: running on empty

According to a report in the Financial Times almost half of England’s 353 local councils had a decline in their financial reserves between March 2015 and March 2017, as a consequence of cuts in central government funding and the rise in social care costs. One of the repercussions of this is an inevitable squeeze on local government’s ability to procure vital services through the agencies of businesses such as 3SC. Of the 152 councils with social care obligations, 70% saw a drop in reserves, with the biggest fall being in Thurrock, Essex, which reported a drop of 65% to £11.8 million. Central government funding for local councils has been cut by 49% since 2010, according to the National Audit Office.

In July 2017 the New Local Government Network (NLGN), an independent think-tank, published a study that proposed new methods for councils to raise cash, in which it argued that “it is essential that civil society is led by shared conceptions of need, determined through collaboration, and led by civil society itself. Critical to achieving this is a new relationship between independent funders and local government.” It suggested that sometimes funding is a struggle for deceptively simple obstacles, such as lacking a shared sense of “what good looks like”, and called for greater collaboration between councils and independent funders (such as foundations and charitable trusts), led by civil society, with an approach that puts outcomes first.

A decade of government cuts has seen local councils forced to attend to the most urgent needs, often at the cost of supposed ‘extras’, such as libraries, parks, or civic amenities such as gymnasiums – yet the ‘extras’ are what make the local community enjoyable to live within, and help foster wellbeing. A new collaborative approach to delivering services to help compensate for the ongoing financial insecurity of councils has to be found, and 3SC is committed to helping finding such innovative solutions through use of the third sector.

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

front door

Millennials and accommodation

Depressing news for the millennial generation from the Resolution Foundation, which argued in a report that “dealing with the intergenerational housing challenge requires reform of the private rented sector (PRS) where so many young people live today, and in some cases are likely to reside for the rest of their lives.” According to this, 16% of millennials are set to rent in the PRS sector “from cradle to grave”.

Lack of secure, safe, long-term accommodation mean that young people find it difficult to commit to jobs, geographic areas, and suffer the kind of anxieties associated with a sense of social anomie.

Given this likely scenario many people in England and Wales need greater security of tenure, as they potentially face a lifetime of living in rented accommodation. The insecurities associated with short-term renting could be eliminated, the report suggests, by following the practice of Scotland, Germany, Switzerland and other continental nations, where indeterminate tenancies are commonplace. A significant insecurity is a sudden and dramatic price increase in rent. This could be cured, argues the foundation, by “light-touch rent stabilisation, which allows landlords to negotiate a market rent at the beginning of a tenancy but increase it no faster than CPI for the following three years.”

In its lengthy report the foundation touches on many related housing issues, including the persistent failure to achieve new building targets. It says: “if we want to build consistently at sufficient scale to produce a price effect the state has to build once again.”

The collapse in home ownership – the number of homeowners under the age of 45 in England has dropped from 4.46 million in 2010 to 3.56 million in 2016, according to government figures – means that housing, generally, is fast rising up the political agenda. Thus it was that Labour issued a Green Paper housing plan in April; one of the pledges, should it gain office, was that it would abolish the current definition of affordable housing as properties rented at 80% of market rate. It also said it planned to build 100,000 “genuinely affordable homes” each year, delivered by local councils and housing associations, at an estimated cost of at least £4 billion/year.

Our partner RentSquare do not believe there is a silver bullet solution to the immediate issues faced not only by millennials in the private rented sector, as rent controls have historically made it worst for renters in the long run – less investment, poorer quality and less supply. Low wage growth and investment into social housing mean many more people will rent for the rest of their lives, so the problem is much wider. Almost a quarter of renters are working families receiving benefits. To complicate things further, there are many more self-employed, whether on zero hours contracts or choosing to do their own thing. Renters’ biggest expenditure – rents – is not counted as part of their credit rating, which is bad news for every renter but especially for those who are not permanently employed or are at the lower end of the market, as it means either paying more or going towards worst quality accommodation.

We know the price of rents is not the only problem facing renters. Not only are rents expensive, but even getting to be considered for a property is a costly and very frustrating experience. It is a constant battle to show you are a ‘good tenant’. That is why 1 in 5 renters fail reference checks.

The impact of this is not only bad for renters – costing them time, money, access to quality housing and peace of mind. It also means landlords lose out on meeting perfectly good renters, which can lead to properties sitting empty for longer, making rents more expensive – because landlords need to cover these costs. So in the end, no one wins.

RentSquare’s solution involves helping renters find and secure the best offer, by helping them stay in control of the process. We do this by helping renters assess their actual affordability and demonstrate their creditworthiness. We support them in finding the best deals according to what they can afford and the kind of terms – length of tenancy, break clauses, whether housing benefit is accepted – they are looking for, before they even commit to a viewing.

Our purpose is to make renting accessible for the many. As such we want to increase everyone’s chance of securing the best offer by offering a customised assessment of renters’ creditworthiness and affordability benchmarking based on their individual circumstances.

We’d like to work with renters across the board to reach those from low income backgrounds, including working families in receipt of housing benefit, where we know we can really make a difference. We are looking for partners, voluntary and third sector organisations and local government authorities who would be interested in developing this with us.

Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

shop assistant

Zero-hours still with us

In April, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published it’s six-monthly review of regarding zero-hours contracts. Despite unemployment now at 4.2%, its lowest level since 1975, the number of people on these contracts remains very high, with just over 900,000 people (2.8% of the workforce) having zero-hours contracts as their main source of employment. The report says that zero-hours contracts represent 6% of all employment contracts. Back in 2011 just 190,000 people reported that their contracts did not guarantee them a minimum number of hours. Some commentators thought the figures showed a plateauing of these kinds of contracts, arguing that the tightness of the labour market was helping to keep the lid on their prevalence. This has been proved incorrect.

Typically, a zero-hours contract, under which there is no guaranteed minimum number of hours, means a person is employed for an average of 25.2 hours a week. The ONS says that the usual profile of someone on zero-hours is that they are young, part-time, female, or in full-time education. Just over a quarter of them would like to have more hours; by comparison 7.3% of people in other employment want more hours. The commonest areas using zero-hours’ contracts are in construction, hospitality and general administration.

The TUC argues that “the main barriers to enforcing rights as a zero-hours contract worker are not usually legal but practical – especially the risk of your hours being ‘zeroed down’ if you complain about the way you are treated.” Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s secretary-general, said: “Zero-hour contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

Zero-hours contracts can trap people in a poverty cycle, where individuals work but are so insecure that they also become benefit-dependent. 3SC is committed to helping those who find themselves in vulnerable positions, amongst our work has been our participation in the Work Programme. Since 2011, 3SC has worked in three regions, with 11 partners, helping more than 5,000 people to move from welfare into employment improving their own lives and their communities in the process.

To contact 3SC to see how we can help, email .

Photo by Chloe Leis on Unsplash

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

3SC to host House of Commons event

At the House of Commons on 22 May 3SC is launching its Position Paper #1, which is titled The Crisis in Public Sector Contracting – And How to Cure It. The event is intended to signal 3SC’s new approach to its business, the focus of which is the unification of large and small, but particularly small, social enterprises to bid for public sector contracts. The fiscal ‘blitz’ of the post-2008 era has devastated public spending; the consequences of austerity have hit many areas of social need. In the report the Chair of 3SC, John Swinney, calls for “more sensitivity in how services are procured and within that an explicit commitment to ensure that third sector and smaller organisations secure a reasonable share of the public procurement pie.”

Price has come to dominate public sector procurement, despite the 2012 Social Value Act, at the cost of securing quality of outcomes. The report argues that a fairer balance needs to be struck such that public sector money is spent wisely, while ensuring that there is also a prioritisation of social benefits.

For this, there needs to be a change of focus. Public commissioners need to shed their austerity-driven concern that price is everything, and start requiring Commissioners and contractors to set aside a percentage (by value) of contracts for smaller providers, who often are driven by their passion and their mission. The Social Value Act already requires people who commission public services to think about how they “can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits”. The report suggests, alongside other ideas, that a Public-Private-Third Sector Enterprise Board (PPTEB) could be established, to oversee public service bidding at national and local levels, responsible for agreeing the terms of a tender and the process by which it is decided, taking into consideration how the sectors can work together and play to their strengths.

Places are limited to attend this event; should you wish to come along you will be very welcome but please contact by 18 May.

Employment Related Services Association

29 June is to be the third annual UK ‘Employability Day’ and ERSA is calling for all organisations involved in employment support to get involved, by hosting events, talking to local MPs, informing the local press and social media, and other publicising activities. ERSA wants to know what your plans are for the day and has provided an online form for completion to help, which is available here. Online support materials are also available from ERA here.