A review of voluntary and community sector services funded by Wokingham Borough Council has been agreed this week by the council’s decision-making executive.
The aim is to ensure services aren’t duplicated; residents get exactly the support they need, and give the organisations providing the services a more stable future and the chance to grow via a predictable income and setting out what’s expected of them.
The strategic review will cover all voluntary and community sector services commissioned or grant funded by the borough council. These are non-profit organisations, and they will be looked at individually.
Wokingham Borough Council currently commissions or provides grant-funding, worth together some £1.2m, to more than 50 voluntary and community sector organisations providing mainly preventative services such as supporting carers and helping vulnerable older people to be independent.
The review is due to start this April and finish March next year. Changes introduced as a result will be managed directly with organisations and would come into effect during the course of the year and beyond.
The review hopes to clearly define what the voluntary sector needs to provide locally, in line with the council’s priorities, and then measure the positive effects of this support on the people who use these services.
The review could also enable those providers struggling with annual grant funding to switch to longer term contractual arrangements, helping them to grow.
“Wokingham’s voluntary sector provides a range of valued services to our residents in the borough,” said Cllr Keith Baker, leader of the council.
“But in these challenging financial times we must make sure our investment is focused on those services which deliver a positive and measurable impact on the lives of the local people who need them, while also meeting our strategic priorities.
“This review isn’t seeking to reduce our investment in voluntary services; far from it. This is all about strengthening our relationships with these organisations and supporting them to increase their sustainability. It is vital Wokingham’s voluntary sector is clear about our commissioning goals so that they can develop and shape their support of the residents using them.”
Existing funding arrangements with these voluntary groups will be extended up to one year, where appropriate, while the review is taking place.
Transitional support will be available for any current service recommended for decommissioning or grant funding withdrawn.