Community Right to Challenge: Step 1

Assessing your organisation

The first thing that any organisation considering using the Right to Challenge should do is to look at its capability to go through the whole process. A Challenge can be rejected purely on the grounds that the relevant authority feels that there are inadequacies in the capabilities, skills, finance or systems of the organisation in question.

Locality has produced a Contract Readiness Checker especially for use in conjunction with the Right to Challenge, and we would recommend that ALL organisations should complete this if they are thinking about using this power, or indeed thinking in general about whether they could take on the delivery of public services. Even organisations that already have some experience of winning and delivering contracts should find this a useful improvement tool.

The Contract Readiness Checker should only take about 20 minutes to complete and will deliver a report showing strengths and areas for improvement across 14 indicators grouped into five areas (Capability, Market Position, Compliance, Finance and Social Value). The output from the use of this tool will be helpful in determining the next steps for your organisation. However you choose to assess your organisational strengths and weaknesses, the starting point should always be to map your aspirations against the current reality of your situation. Once you have identified your development needs there are resources and organisations available to help you to undertake the next steps of your journey. Links to some free resources are given below, and these should be reviewed first. Beyond this you could contact the advice line for suggestions about your next steps, or you might consider an application for a Community Right to Challenge pre-feasibility grant to buy in some expertise to help develop your organisation in the right direction.

Do not be daunted by this advice! For challenges for small scale and straight forward service delivery much of what follows can be done quite simply. However, you will, if successful have a legal and contractual duty to fulfil, so attention to detail will still be important.

Resources

Some free resources are referenced below, grouped into different areas of organisational development. If at any point you are getting stuck with jargon, you should find the Social Enterprise ‘dictionary’ produced by Social Enterprise UK – very useful!

Setting up as a Social Enterprise

Start your Social Enterprise Guide (Social Enterprise UK)

An extensive overview of all elements of social enterprise start-up – legal, finance, marketing and more.

Choosing the right legal structure

Simply Legal (Co-operatives UK)

The definitive guide to the all important choice of legal structure for voluntary groups and community enterprises.

Smaller service example – running the local outdoor market

This is a worked example which is the running of a weekly local outdoor market, but this sort of journey could apply to a number of smaller local services.

A local group wants to take over the running of their local outdoor market, as they don’t feel it is being run or advertised as well as it could be, and numbers of customers and stall holders have been steadily dropping, putting its future in doubt. Although it is a relatively small undertaking, the group still completes the Contract Readiness Checker as a starting point. This shows that while the group is not ready to deliver big contracts, with a bit of attention to a few areas (financial systems and policies) they should be seen to be a suitable organisation to run a small contract.

The group is a locally based not-for-profit organisation constituted as a Company Limited by Guarantee. They see that they are an eligible body under the Right to Challenge, so they move onto step 2.