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Social Enterprises must tender aggressively

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Experts are saying that Social Enterprises must be more aggressive when writing a tender in order for them to win public sector contracts in a competitive market.

Traditionally, the UK has a positive track record of organisations from the third sector delivering public services to their local communities. If we cast our minds back to the 19th century, before the introduction of the welfare state, charities delivered a wide variety of services such as education in schools, health care and housing benefits to name a few. These services were, in part, funded through the state and all surpluses were used to further deliver societal benefits. Some of the nation’s longest-standing charities were originally ‘social campaigning organisations’, whilst also providing charitable services for disadvantaged individuals.

From this we can determine that the role of companies with the voluntary sector and third sector is already fairly well established. However, in today’s economic environment, the opportunity for these sectors to facilitate reforms in the delivery of public service is evident and vital. Social enterprises are already aligned with the requirements of government contractors, which require high quality services to be delivered in a cost effective manner, whilst delivering social benefits (increasingly so following the publication of the Public Services (Social Value) 2012).

However, it cannot be forgotten that tendering for a public sector contract is a very competitive process, so charities and social enterprises need to ensure that they, too, are competitive. These kinds of organisation have a natural competitive advantage over other companies outside the not-for-profit sector, which a normal commercial business fails to deliver.

The government also has a role in cementing a place in public procurement for social enterprises. It has already made revisions to the process of procuring public sector work, and, as part of a drive for transparency, all contracts with a value over £10,000 are now published on Contracts Finder and prequalification questionnaires (PQQs) have already been abolished for contracts with a value lower than £100,000. The government needs to recognise, however, that aside from removing these barriers to entry, they also need to take steps to ensure that the value that social enterprises and charities can bring to a contract do not go unnoticed during the competitive process.

Michael O’Toole, the government’s crown representative for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, is urging these organisations to be more aggressive when completing a PQQ or writing a tender, and to be more innovative and creative during this process, in order to ensure that this sector earns its rightful market share of the public procurement pot.

If you are struggling to make your charity or social enterprise stand out from the rest of the crowd, why not contact us today? We are experts at highlighting the value you will bring to a contract and we will give you the best possible chance of contract award, using our own industry experience and expertise in the procurement process.

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