Hello from Capacity
Yes, we’ve got a new name! But why?
It is clear from meeting people across Liverpool City Region and nationally that there is indeed capacity in our communities and systems. There’s capacity to do things differently and better. And, as of now, much of that capacity is untapped. It might be community groups wanting to run local parks, or individuals dealing with some acute or chronic condition wanting to help others earlier in that journey. Or it might be parents whose children have left home wanting to help isolated adults in their communities.
Communities and providers could do more, but too often they are restricted by current systems. For example:
- Rigid and burdensome procurement processes, together with transactional contract and risk management procedures, which restrict the ability of providers and communities to be flexible and to do what is best for the people they support and their local areas;
- A lack of commercial capability within local communities to secure contracts or deliver opportunities which could develop the ‘social economy’ around them; and
- A lack of imagination and genuine collaboration between commissioners, providers, and external funders (and also between providers themselves) which results in the needs and requirements of organisations being put before the needs and requirements of communities and people in need.
Capacity - The Public Services Lab is dedicated to making better outcomes possible by helping to unlock potential.
We launch in Liverpool this evening by setting out our approach to help tackle this challenge. We aren’t claiming to have all the answers, but hope to work collaboratively with funders, commissioners, providers and community members to find the answers and deliver better solutions. Our initial activity will include:
- A service design programme for those public sector organisations wanting to reimagine and rethink the shape and scope of public services;
- An incubator which works with VCSE providers and with communities to develop new solutions to social challenges;
- An accelerator to guide VCSE providers and communities through the transition to securing and delivering more sizeable contracts; and
- A joint-prime vehicle which enables VCSE providers to overcome barriers to bidding for contracts whilst simultaneously building their capability.
Looked at one way, these are individual services. At another level, however, the Capacity operation will be working collectively to find big alternatives to the traditional provider-commissioner model, with the aim of helping realise the potential in our communities to do better. That’s the ‘capacity’ we aim to unlock.
Over the next 12 months we will be launching periodic thematic calls for our incubator programme, focusing on areas such as Ageing, Complex Needs, and Community Assets. Our senior team is in post – Michelle as Director of System Design and Phil as our Director of Transformation (with Grace our Business Manager who runs our lives). We have support from our partners Interserve, Catch22, Big Society Capital and Clubfinance. So now we are actively looking to work with commissioners, providers, and community groups who believe our accelerator, joint-prime or design services could help transform the way they work.