Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Cabinet Office questions

The Office for Civil Society will shortly publish a consultation on what changes need to be made to commissioning to make it easier for voluntary organisations to compete for public contracts, MPs have heard.

At question time on 24 November 2010 Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd told the Commons that the consultation would feed into a wider public services reform White Paper which would be published in the new year.

Tory MP David Ruffley said third sector bodies were "extremely keen" to bid for contracts but were concerned that "unscrupulous large corporate contractors" could fatally damage their cash flow.

Lib Dem MP John Pugh said it was not just the cost but the "time and... long drawn out nature" of the bidding process that deterred voluntary community sector organisations, and he questioned what the government intended to do to help.

"That's a hugely important point", Mr Hurd said.

"For many organisations the whole process is a bureaucratic nightmare often totally disproportionate to the sums of money involved and I think it is fundamental to the reforms of commissioning and procurement that we are undertaking", he added.

He said that while there would be cases when large scale contracts were more efficient the government wanted to ensure voluntary organisations were not excluded from those contracts and were treated fairly.

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