Concerns over hub replacement services

Capacitybuilders' draft framework for the new national support services that will replace the ChangeUp hubs is unclear about how potential conflicts of interest will be resolved, the Directory of Social Change has warned.

The framework, which was published this month, proposes establishing four national support services – which will cover the themes of finance, performance, workforce and voice – to replace the six ChangeUp hubs.

Organisations will be invited to bid to become the “strategic leads” that run each of the support services. Tenders will also be invited to bid for funding to deliver specific programmes within the strategic themes.

But Ben Wittenberg, director of policy & research at the Directory of Social Change, said some organisations could bid to become strategic leads as well as tendering to deliver specific programmes within each of the strategic themes – leading to potential conflicts of interest.

“An initial concern is how the relationship between organisations that have an interest in the strategic level and the delivery of work on the ground will be managed,” he said. “The organisation involved in determining the overall strategy and commissioning could be the same organisation tendering to carry out the work – there could be a conflict of interest.”

Wittenberg added that the draft framework “doesn’t make it clear” how such conflicts would be resolved.

A spokeswoman for Capacitybuilders said the funding available to the national support services “had not been agreed” because Capacitybuilders was awaiting confirmation from the Office of the Third Sector regarding its funding for 2008. But she added that it “probably will be less” than the £9.6m allocated to the hubs last year.

She added: "We want to see the best applicants for the strategic leads and we believe there should be no restrictions on who should apply."

The finance support service will cover issues such as fundraising, marketing, financial management and business planning. Meanwhile, communications, information technology, quality assurance and mergers will be covered by the performance support service.

The workforce support service will address issues including management, governance, leadership and workforce development.

Campaigning, advocacy and community action will fall under the remit of the voice support service.

The framework document, called Draft Framework for National Support Services, can be read here.

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