Acevo leader calls for right of redress for subcontractors

Sir Stephen Bubb says voluntary groups must be able to take action if they are "screwed over" by prime contractors and commissioners

Sir Stephen Bubb
Sir Stephen Bubb

Charities must not be "screwed over for short-term profit" by prime contractors running public service contracts, Sir Stephen Bubb, leader of the chief executives body Acevo, said today.

Speaking at its northern conference in Manchester, Bubb called for a right of redress if voluntary sector groups believe they have been treated unfairly by prime contractors or commissioners.

He said that Acevo would "promote not just competition in the interests of service users, but collaboration too, so that where we have prime contractor models, primes work with their subcontractors in the interests of the people they serve, rather than screwing them over for short-term profit.

"I want a right of redress for third sector organisations treated unfairly by prime contractors as well as commissioners," he said.

Bubb also said the government should act on a proposal to give third sector organisations a right of redress if they think they have been excluded from bidding for government funding because of unfair bidding situations.

He also called on the government to extend the "right to challenge" in the Localism Bill, which would allow voluntary sector groups to challenge councils to run a public service in a different way from the NHS and probation services. He called for the extension of social impact bonds to health services, and for "concrete proposals" from the government to set up tax incentives for social investment.

Bubb also said that alongside a "right to choice" that would give individuals more say on the public services they receive, which is proposed in the government’s Open Public Services white paper, there should be a "right to voice" that would give service users a bigger say in the commissioning process and greater rights to information and advocacy.   

Bubb told the conference he had written to the decentralisation minister, Greg Clark, to press him to enforce his proposal to require councils to publish how much they spend on the voluntary sector.

"If councils makes disproportionate cuts to voluntary organisations not because it's what's best for local people but because it's the easy thing to do, we will now be ready to make those councils explain their decisions, not just to the organisations affected, but to the Local Government Ombudsman and to public opinion as well," he said.

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