Convergence Funding 2007 - 13
European Union Convergence Funding is intended to assist regions like West Wales and the Valleys complete the transition into a leading-edge, competitive economy. A number of large projects have now been funded across all the Priorities and Measures. For further information, click here.
If you would like further information, contact Ali Bond at SCVS - Assistant Director Core Services (Support and Development) on 01792 544007 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Procurement, tendering and the third sector – a future together.
In a climate where grant funding is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, developing new income streams aside from grants has become a priority for third sector organisations in their efforts to become financially secure. This has, in part, been due to the public sector (the biggest funder of the third sector) beginning to provide contracts rather than grant funding opportunities for the delivery of public services.
Third sector organisations are particularly well-placed to become key stakeholders in the delivery of these services to the community. Often community-led with the benefit of direct experience of an issue, they are able to engage with hard-to-reach groups in providing services such as care for older people, training opportunities for socially excluded people or community childcare facilities.
The advantage of earning income by delivering public services under contract to the public sector is that third sector organisations are given the opportunity to become more financially sustainable. Contracts often tend to be longer than some grants, are legally binding for both the funder and the provider, and often take place at a local level where negotiations could take place.
However, many third sector organsiations new to public service delivery will not only need to think about how entering into contracts could affect their organisation and its beneficiaries, but they will also need to develop an understanding of commonly used, and often complex, terms.
Good explanations of procurement and the terms and processes involved can be found at www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/sfp - NCVO's Sustainable Funding Project, or at www.sustainablefundingcymru.org.uk - Sustainable Funding Cymru. Essentially, however, the process of bidding for, and negotiating, contracts for public service delivery is known as 'tendering'. 'Procurement', on the other hand, is the term that is being used to refer to this purchase of goods and services from external agencies, such as the local authority or the local health board.
It is likely that organisations wishing to benefit from the new 2007-2013 programmes for Convergence Funding (the European Funding Programme to supersede Objective 1) will need to enter into procurement processes and tender for contracts to deliver projects approved under the programme. As detailed in 'Guidance on Sponsorship, Partnership, Procurement and Grants' (now available to download from the WEFO website: www.wefo.wales.gov.uk), it is hoped that this move will mean that any interested delivery agents, including third sector organisations, will have the opportunity to tender for an activity contract on a fair and transparent basis.
These contract opportunities, along with many others, are advertised on the Sell2Wales website provided by the Welsh Assembly Government. By registering with Sell2Wales (www.sell2wales.co.uk), organisations will receive automatic alerts of suitable opportunities, and can also request a free 'Guide to Tendering' for public sector contracts. Alternatively, the Office of the European Union (OJEU) publishes all public sector contracts over a specified EU threshold – http://www.ted.europa.eu
Finding information about available contracts and being invited to tender also requires a degree of personal research and building the right relationships through networking locally. 'SwanseasThirdSector.com', launched by SCVS in August 2007, gives detailed information on the key partnerships in Swansea and is an essential resource for groups wishing to become involved with local partnerships, committees and strategic forums – helping third sector organisations to identify potential purchasers for their services.
Opportunities for contracting are not only available through public sector agencies such as local authority or the local health board. They also exist with private businesses or indeed other voluntary and community organisations. Advertisements from all types of purchasing agency can be found in national, regional or local newspapers or trade journals relating to particular service areas.
The Procurement Process
With so many types of agencies purchasing services there is no standard approach to procurement and tendering. Each agency will have developed their own procurement rules and procedures relating to how they will manage and enter into contracts with suppliers. Nevertheless a typical procurement process involves the 'purchaser' inviting suppliers to put in an offer, or tender for a contract. The purchaser will then evaluate the tenders against set criteria relating to value for money and award the contract to the supplier whose bid represents best value for money.
At the start of this tendering process, however, third sector organisations need to give very careful consideration to the effect of bidding for a contract on their mission and objectives, trading issues and the capacity of their organisation.
Sources of help:
Visit: www.sell2wales.co.uk to register your organisation and receive updates on the tendering opportunities available.
Spatial European Teams
The Spatial European Teams (SETs) will play a key role in the implementation of the Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment programmes 2007-2013.
In Swansea, contact Paul Relf / Jackie Thomas in the City & County of Swansea European Team in the first instance, Tel: 01792 636217 or 636858 or email: email@example.com
Further information on the role of the SETs can be found at: