About the review


The voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector is an important partner for statutory health and social care agencies and plays a key role in improving health, well-being and care outcomes. Recent legislation and strategy documents such as the Health and Social Care Act 2012, Care Act 2013 and Five Year Forward View 2014 have recognised this and promoted the role of VCSE organisations in service provision.

This development is underpinned by the following assumptions about the VCSE sector:

  • Being close to communities, it is ideally placed to identify the assets, needs and aspirations of service users and carers
  • It brings specialist expertise to public service delivery and is particularly well placed to support those with complex and multiple needs
  • It often provides better value for money due to its focus on early action, preventative services and the wider social value


In November 2014, the Department of Health (DH), Public Health England (PHE), and NHS England initiated a review of the role of the VCSE sector in improving health, wellbeing and care outcomes.  It has two elements:

  1. A review of their Voluntary Sector Investment Programme: The Strategic Partnership Programme; The Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund; The Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund
  2. A review of wider funding and partnerships between health and care agencies and the VCSE sector across England. This will focus on three areas: defining, achieving, and demonstrating impact; building capacity and staying sustainable; promoting equality and addressing health inequalities

The purpose of the review is to:

  • Describe the role of the VCSE sector in contributing to improving health, well-being and care outcomes
  • Identify and describe challenges and opportunities to realising the potential of the sector to contribute to these outcomes
  • Consult on options for policy and practice changes to address challenges and maximise opportunities, then develop final recommendations


From January to March 2015, the review held a series of engagement events with the VCSE sector.  What we heard and the evidence gathered formed an interim report (VCSE Review Interim Report).  From August to early November we will be road testing options developed from this earlier engagement with a wider audience including public sector organisations, cross-sector partnerships and academic departments.  This combined evidence will feed directly into the recommendations due for publication in early 2016.


The review is being co-produced by the public and VCSE sectors. It is chaired by Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus.  Its advisory group meets on a monthly basis and is overseeing the review.  Advisory group members take an active role ensuring the views of a wide range of people are able to influence its development.  It is supported by a secretariat of DH, PHE and NHS England with programme management provided by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

Find out more about our advisory group and secretariat.

One thought on “About the review

  1. I think valuing and developing the voluntary sector is especially important when there is less funding around and commissioners can be tempted to off load everything to the statutory sector. I like the consideration given to this. I think more emphasis could be put on the value that voluntary organisations give to partnerships regarding culture. My experience is that working in an integrated way including health and the voluntary sector can improve the culture particularly making it more person centred. I think good collaborations at partnership level create the right working atmosphere for staff to collaborate with people who use services. This is especially relevant post Francis. I have found that some of the fresh eyes of volunteers can be very helpful in finding ways to improve quality.


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