Skip to main content
Nominations open for Locality Awards '24 -

open until Tuesday 11 June with £1,000 cash prize for community organisation winners

Nominate now
Case Study:

South Gloucestershire – recognising the value of the local VCSE sector:

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, South Gloucestershire Council saw community organisations and mutual aid groups playing a vital role in the crisis response.

Published: 29 June 2022
2 minute read

The ambition

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, South Gloucestershire Council saw community organisations and mutual aid groups playing a vital role in the crisis response. Being able to demonstrate the value of VCSE impact is a powerful way of making the case for preventative activity happening now, to save costs further down the line. An integral part of the Keep it Local philosophy.

The action

The council recognises the continued importance of the VCSE and has pursued a programme of culture change to ensure that an understanding of the value of the sector is imbedded in all service areas. The council are the first to admit that they have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring that the value of the sector is understood across the council. But, in implementing this programme of culture change they have found ways of demonstrating the value of the sector.

The result

The council calculated that during the pandemic, a £165k investment in the local VCSE sector meant that £1.095m of direct council spending on their own services was not needed. This created a net saving of at least £935k for the council, avoiding £6 in costs for every £1 invested in the VCSE sector. This is a clear example of how investment in the sector can reduce pressures on public services and make public money go further.

The learning

But understanding the value of the sector is not enough. It also requires an understanding of challenges faced by the sector. This has meant building knowledge among council officers that many VCSE organisations don’t have large cash reserves or the ability to leverage debt or equity. They can therefore only provide the services for which they have funding. There is growing recognition that there needs to be support for the capacity of the sector to get involved in new services. For example, in the case of one home care service, VCSE organisations were not able to be integrated into hospital discharge pathways due to a lack of capacity.

We know that VCSE organisations can have a big impact and reduce costs in the long-term in services such as hospital discharge and home care. But it requires capacity and the investment in these services in the first place. South Gloucestershire’s calculations are just one step in the culture change journey. This has put an emphasis on working across the public and VCSE sectors, further emphasising the need to break out of traditional service or sector siloes.