rory takes his case for small cumbrian charities to westminster

Rory raised the need to support contracts for small Cumbrian charities yesterday in a Westminster Hall debate on Local Government Procurement. He was emphasising the difficulties which small local charities face in competing with larger national providers in complex tendering processes at a County Council level.

The debate built on Rory’s ongoing work with Carolyn Otley and her colleagues at Cumbria CVS and the Cumbria Third Sector Network in pressing Cumbria County Council to make its tendering procedures for charities more equitable and conscious of the great value of local knowledge and experience. It follows a meeting that Rory convened with a range of smaller Cumbrian charities and housing organisations to discuss their experiences, attended by Cumbria County Council. The meeting was instrumental in opening up debate about this important issue, and has led to a contracting review. Rory took the opportunity yesterday in parliament to ask the Minister responsible, what local authorities can do to help county councils recognise the value of local expertise. He cited Eden Mencap, and Eden Carers as examples of smaller charities, which could be disadvantaged by large national charities.

Rory said: “It was great to have an opportunity to raise this issue with the Minister in parliament. For some time now Cumbria CVS, following on from our original meeting in 2011, have been working hard with Cumbria County Council to improve the tendering environment for our charities, ensuring that smaller organisations are not squeezed out of the process by larger anonymous charities who, critically, have no local knowledge, connections, or expertise. How can we best serve those in need in our communities when we don’t understand their unique needs? The process currently needs to be simplified, whilst providing longer timescales for smaller groups to be able to work on applications, and for local knowledge and expertise to be rewarded in the process and recognised as an incredibly important criteria.”

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