Social Investment Business will launch consortia to bid for public sector contracts

It says the plans will involve up to 10,000 small and large charities

Ian Charlesworth
Ian Charlesworth

The Social Investment Business plans to launch a series of consortia, involving up to 10,000 charities, to bid for local and national government contracts.

The SIB is currently in advanced negotiations for contracts with a number of large local authorities and expects to announce up to three contracts shortly, according to Ian Charlesworth, its commercial director.

In 2009, the SIB launched 3SC to bid for welfare-to-work contracts. It plans to replicate the model used by the 3SC consortium to win business in other sectors.

Charlesworth said the new organisations would potentially provide services for children, health, education, transport, leisure and offender management.

He said that at first the SIB would plan to tender for and win business, then set up a number of management organisations to run those contracts. The management organisations would then build an appropriate supply chain using a mix of charities.

"It's important that this involves both small local providers, who often have the best ideas for solving these problems, and the large national charities," he said. "The big national charities would need to give up some autonomy.

"We've already built the supply chains that we need to fulfil many of these contracts."

The SIB might create nationwide consortia for each sector, or regional consortia that focus on several sectors, he said.

Each consortium would have its own management arm that could be part of the SIB, but this was still under consideration, he added. Once up and running, those management arms could bid for more business themselves.

Charlesworth said he was also involved in negotiations with two retail banks to develop a product similar to a social impact bond to provide finance for each project.

"We haven't finalised this product yet," he said. "But we hope it will take the social impact bond idea and move it further."

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