Focus on charities that can scale up, Rob Wilson tells public service commissioners

The Minister for Civil Society was speaking at the launch of a report by the Centre for Social Justice yesterday

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

Public service commissioners should focus on charities that have the ability to scale up, according to Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society.

Wilson was speaking in Westminster yesterday at the launch of the  report Enabling Grass-roots Charities to Tackle Poverty by the think tank the Centre for Social Justice.

Asked by an audience member what his plan was to help smaller charities that struggle to win service delivery contracts, Wilson said it was important for commissioners to focus on charities that have the ability to scale up. 

He said that contracts should be broken down into manageable sizes and commissioners should be educated so they did not prevent charities from bidding to deliver services.

"It is important that we try to focus on charities than can scale up, because if we are putting these contracts out we need organisations that have this ability," he said. 

But his comment was challenged by Andrew Barnett, director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK, who said that scale was a "fool's gold" and did not always correlate with impact.

He said it would be better to "spread and grow the best charities" instead. 

Danny Kruger, chief executive of the criminal justice charity Only Connect, who who was also speaking at the event, said he welcomed the proposal to break down contract sizes because under the existing system "how can the government possibly work with a little organisation such as mine that turns over about £2m?"

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