VCSE Review: Discussion Paper on the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme

Closed 11 Nov 2015

Opened 7 Aug 2015


As important partners in addressing health inequalities and improving health and well-being outcomes, the Department of Health, Public Health England, and NHS England are committed to working in partnership and investing in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to achieve the greatest impact for all communities in England.

In November 2014, the Department of Health, Public Health England, and NHS England (the ‘system partners’) initiated a review of their investment in the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector.  The VCSE Review Advisory Group has representatives from the VCSE and public sector.  Their purpose is to gather views and evidence to make recommendations about two key elements:

  1. Investment and partnerships between health and care agencies and the VCSE sector across England.
  2. Central government grant funding of the VCSE sector (the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme) contributing to health and care.  This is a joint funding programme across the system partners, administered by the Department of Health.

In March 2015, the VCSE Review Advisory Group produced an interim report based on engagement with the VCSE sector during stage one of the review.  The report identified an on-going need for the system partners to have a strategic approach to partnerships and investment with the VCSE sector.

Following the interim report, the Advisory Group has now launched the second stage of the review, to test what we heard in stage one and start proposing some of the recommendations that will form part of the final report (due to be published in early 2016).

This discussion paper focuses exclusively on the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme (see below) and takes a detailed look at what the shape of this programme could be in the future.  We would also really like to hear your thoughts on the wider investment and partnerships across the whole of health and care and you can find further detail about this here: consultation paper.

Background to the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme

Launched in April 2009, the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme seeks to enable the voluntary sector to work in equal partnership with system partners and other public sector organisations to help shape and deliver policies and programmes to improve health and wellbeing outcomes. In stage one of the review we heard about the valuable role that this programme has had. It enables investment in areas that would not be funded through other sources, has funded important and impactful work, and is a tangible way that the system partners demonstrate they value the sector.  Approximately £22 million is available for the whole programme.  There are three main funds operating within the programme:

  • The Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund (IESD)
  • The Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund (HSCVF)
  • The Health and Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partnership Programme

In the interim report, several areas for potential improvement in the programme were highlighted, which we intend to explore in more detail through this discussion paper. 

Who should read and complete this discussion paper

We hope to engage with a range of people from different organisations through this discussion paper, including:

  • VCSE organisations
  • Local community or interest groups
  • NHS England, Public Health England and Department of Health policy leads

We would also welcome input from anyone who would like to contribute to and influence the discussion, including patients, carers, service users and the public.  This can be through this paper and / or online webinars.  

Purpose of this discussion paper

The findings from this consultation will feed into strategic decision making about future funding and the design of the Voluntary Sector Investment Programme.

You can follow progress on the VCSE Review at any time via the VCSE Review website.  During the second stage of the review we will publish blogs from a wide range of contributors and any updates on the review’s progress. The final report and all recommendations will also be available on the review website.

Key Dates for the VCSE Review

  • Closing date for contributions: 6 November 2015 
  • Analysis of responses: November – December 2015
  • Publication of findings as part of the final report with recommendations from the VCSE Advisory Group: Early 2016

If you want to see or print a full text version of the discussion paper, please see here or see the resources page of the VCSE website.

What happens next

The VCSE Advisory Group will analyse responses to this discussion paper between November and December 2015.  

We hope to publish findings in early 2016 along with final recommendations from the VCSE Review.


  • Policy leads
  • Voluntary groups
  • Charities
  • Service users


  • Patient and public voice
  • Reducing health inequalities
  • Partnerships and relationships
  • Health and social care policy
  • Funding
  • Impact