*Update* - 12 March 2019

The draft prospectus for the Local Community Fund is now in the final stages of approval.  We expect the fund to go live next week and will publish the final prospectus, forms, guidance etc.

The draft prospectus brings together in one document the funding schemes, general guidance and the assessment criteria which we have been discussing for the past few months.  Most of it will be familiar to those who have taken part in the discussions but the council would like to give an opportunity to organisations to see the draft prospectus before it is finalised.  It is draft so please do not be distracted if the formatting and numbering is not yet quite right.  Anyone familiar with drafting large documents will know the nightmare of consistent formatting!

Click here for the  draft prospectus

View the FAQs here

*Update* - 21 February 2019 

The Local Authority have updated the FAQ's for the LCF following the last workshop

View the FAQs here

*Update* - 18 February 2019 

Notes and Questions from ‘Theme, Schemes and Bidding’ workshop, 6th February 2019

*Update* - 11 February 2019 

The LCF workshop on 6 February discussed the draft schemes which organisations will be bidding to in the Local Community Fund, the bidding process, monitoring and setting out outcomes.  You can see the presentations made at the session here.  We are collating the feedback from the workshop and will be publishing the summary shortly.  Feedback from the workshop is being incorporated into the schemes and guidance for the programme and the final draft of the prospectus for the LCF will be published before the end of the month.  We are also revising and updating the FAQs and factsheet about the LCF.

*Update* - 1 February 2019

Local Community Fund Update 1 February 2019

The Council will be holding a workshop session on 6th February at 10:00 to 12:30 at the Professional Development Centre, 229 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AB.  Refreshments will be available from 9:30.  To book a place, please register here.

At this session we will look at:

The draft schemes (previously we called them specifications).  This includes a final look at the outcomes for each of the priorities;
What you will need to include in your bids, what information we will be asking for and how your bids should be structured across the themes;
Monitoring outcomes;
Training and support, and
The next steps.

We have been working on the feedback we have had from past sessions and your individual feedback to produce a set of documents which set out the Local Community Fund programme in detail.  These documents are available on the THCVS website along with documents from previous sessions on the Local Community Fund page (scroll down to past updates for more information).

Summary of LCF Outcomes

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing

Digital Inclusion

Information and Advice

Employment and Skills

Community Safety

Even if your organisation’s primary focus is in one of the theme areas, we recommend you look at the summary to see whether there are priorities and outcomes in other themes which maybe relevant to you.

We are nearing the end of the process and expect to launch the new fund prospectus and open for bidding in the second week of March.  The schemes are still draft and we continue to welcome comment and suggestions as well as questions which we can add to the frequently asked questions (FAQs).  If you would like to comment but cannot attend the session on 6th February, please email  Gemma.Cossins@towerhamlets.gov.uk, David.Freeman@towerhamlets.gov.uk or vcs@towerhamlets.gov.uk.


*Update* - 29 January 2019

London Borough of Tower Hamlets invite you to join us for a Local Community Fund Prospectus workshop. Refreshments will be available from 9.30am, and the workshop starting promptly at 10am.

This session will look at elements of the prospectus for the Local Community Fund including the revised outcomes, criteria and assessment, general guidance and the support programme.

6th February, 2019 9:30am to 12:30pm, at Professional Development Centre (Hall), 229 Bethnal Green Rd
London, E2 6AB

Book your place here 


*Update* - 15 January 2019

Tower Hamlets Council is holding a workshop to discuss the outcomes and assessment process for the Local Community Fund on Monday 21st January – booking details here.

Draft Themes and Service Outcomes

This document provides a summary of the revised strands and suggested service outcomes for the Local Community Fund.  Please note that these are still very much in draft format.

 The service outcomes were developed following input from workshops and meetings in late 2018 and feedback from colleagues in the voluntary sector and Tower Hamlets Council.  The original overarching outcomes (from the draft framework, online here) are listed in blue below, with updated outcomes in black.  

We are interested to know:

If the strands and outcomes make sense, i.e. any feedback on the range of outcomes, the people they cover and the overall scope of the programme
Whether any outcomes can be merged and/or reworded 

Draft Criteria and Assessment

The draft criteria and assessment for the Local Community Fund sets out the two stages of assessment of bids to the programme.  Most of the criteria will be familiar to organisations which have made bids for funds from any public body but we have included ‘Local Value’ and ‘Service Co-design’ as criteria where we are specifically seeking your input.  We will be discussing what these criteria should look like at the workshop on 21st January and continuing the discussion until the final versions are agreed early in February.    

Following the workshop on 21st  January we will be publishing a second draft, incorporating comments made at the session.

If you are not able to attend the workshop on 21st, or have further thoughts after the event, please email your comments suggestions or questions to:  Gemma.Cossins@towerhamlets.gov.uk, David.Freeman@towerhamlets.gov.uk or vcs@towerhamlets.gov.uk




*Update* - 8 January 2019 

At the end of last year there were seven workshop sessions looking at outcomes for the five themes of the Local Community Fund.  The details of these sessions and the notes taken at the sessions are all published on this page which is devoted to the Council’s Local Community Fund.

They are now drawing together all the input from VCS organisations and Council service leads at those sessions and drafting the service descriptions which organisations will be asked to bid for in the new fund.   A workshop session has been scheduled to look at these in more detail, for Monday 21 January at 2:00pm, (refreshments available from 1:30).

To book on this workshop click here

They will also be looking at the funding criteria and assessment, particularly what ‘Local connection’ should look like and also what they mean by continuing co-design of service over the period of funding.

A further date for your diary – morning of 6th February they will be looking at the draft prospectus for the LCF.  Details will be published closer to the date.

If you cannot make it to the workshops you are very welcome to send comments on the documents when they are published to vcs@towerhamlets.gov.uk or gemma.cossins@towerhamlets.gov.uk.


Local Community Fund Programme Framework

This sets out the five priority themes and high level outcomes that make up the framework.

Local Community Fund Themed Workshops

6 themed workshops have been planned to cover each of the 5 strands (the Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing Theme has two workshops but each covering the same information and activities)

There will also be a 7th drop in session which will not be themed on a specific strand but rather an overview of the progress so far for all the strands and give a final opportunity to contribute to the outcomes.

Local Community Fund Drop-In Session  - 18th December, 2018 4:30 PM at the Professional Development Centre -  It was a final opportunity for stakeholders to make a contribution to the development of the outcomes for the projects, which would form the basis for the funding bids organisations will be making.

*Update* - 17th December 2018 - Workshop Notes and Draft Outcomes

The workshop notes so far are quite detailed at this stage, so the next step will be to rationalise them into a more concise form.

BUT - If you have any clarifications, suggestions, questions or would like to highlight your favourite outcomes please send your comments to gemma.cossins@towerhamlets.gov.uk as soon as possible so she can make the changes ready for the next version.

We’re aware that this is a busy time of year and that it might not be possible for everyone to attend the workshops. Gemma is happy to take input, suggested outcomes and questions by email and phone. Please do pass on information about the programme and the ways people can comment and contribute to anyone you think might be interested. The more input we get at this stage, and the greater the range of perspectives we include, the stronger the specifications (and programme) will be.

The notes taken so far are as follows

Community Safety LBTH LCF Workshop - Wednesday 12th December from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Professional Development Centre

Community Safety Notes

Community Safety Outcomes

Community Saftey Introduction

Digital Inclusion LBTH LCF Workshop – 14th November 2018 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Christian Street Community Hub

Digital Inclusion Priorities and Outcomes

Digital Inclusion workshop notes v1

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing LBTH LCF Workshop - Friday 23rd November, 2018 9:30am to 1:00pm at Christian Street Community Hub

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing Priorities and Outcomes

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing workshop notes v1

Information and Advice - LBTH Local Community Fund Workshop – Monday 26th November, 2018 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Professional Development Centre

Information and Advice Priorities and Outcomes

Information and Advice workshop notes v1

Employment and Skills - LBTH Local Community Fund Workshop – Friday 30th November, 2018 9:30am to 1:00pm at Christian Street Community

Employment and Skills Priorities and Outcomes

Employment and Skills workshop notes v1






Update - 4th December 2018

Local Community Fund – Drop In Session, 18th December, 4.30-8pm, Professional Development Centre, 229 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E2 6AB

This drop in session brings participants up to date with the development of the Local Community Fund programme and how it will roll out over the next few months. It is a final opportunity for stakeholders to make a contribution to the development of the outcomes for the projects, which will form the basis for the funding bids organisations will be making.

Participants are invited to drop-in and review the detailed outcomes developed for all the theme at the workshops held so far and discussed the activities they need to be developing.

Participants are not expected to attend the whole session but it is an opportunity for stakeholders that have been unable to attend previous events to drop in and make a contribution to the development of the outcomes for the Local Community Fund.

Book your place here or call Peter at THCVS on 020 8980 8427

Note write ups from each workshop (more will be added once they are recieved)

Digital Inclusion Workshop

See here for the PowerPoint slides and here for the workshop notes

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing Workshop (being repeated on Monday 10th December 2018)


Update - 26th November 2018 

Follow up from Digital Inclusion and Awareness’ workshop at the Christian Street Hub.

Notes on workshop
Community Fund Framework



Update -  20th November 2018

In this update:

Feedback from the Digital Inclusion LBTH LCF Workshop
Additional Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing workshop added
All workshop venues and timings now confirmed

The first of the Tower Hamlets Local Community Fund (LCF) Workshops took place last week for the Digital Inclusion funding theme. Attended by 20 representatives from local groups, the workshop reviewed the progress so far in developing the high level outcomes. Participants then had the opportunity to discuss and comment on the outcomes, to determine whether shorter term outcomes could be developed and what kinds of measurements. See here for a full list of each of the funding theme priorities and higher level outcomes.

You can access the PowerPoint slides for this event here. Once the workshops notes are completed, we will circulate these and update people.

Demand for the Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing workshop has been very high. This means that the Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing workshop due on 23rd November is now fully booked. However, the council have included an additional workshop which will cover the exact same information will take place on Monday 10th December from 2pm to 5pm  at Professional Development Centre (light working lunch provided). Register here

Here is a full list of upcoming LBTH LCF workshops:

FULLY BOOKED - Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing LBTH LCF Workshop - Friday 23rd November, 2018 9:30am to 1:00pm at Christian Street Community Hub (light working breakfast provided)

Information and Advice - LBTH Local Community Fund Workshop – Monday 26th November, 2018 2:00pm   to 5:00pm at Professional Development Centre

Employment and Skills - LBTH Local Community Fund Workshop – Friday 30th November, 2018 9:30am to 1:00pm at Christian Street Community Hub (light working breakfast provided)

Community Safety - LBTH Local Community Fund Workshop - Wednesday 12th December from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at  Professional Development Centre (light working lunch provided)

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing LBTH LCF Workshop – Monday 10th December 2018 from 2pm to 5pm at Professional Development Centre (light working lunch provided)


Update -  5th November 2018

Funding Programmes Agreed

The Mayor agreed at Cabinet yesterday the proposed Local Community Fund (previously known as Community Commissioning) and the proposals for a single corporate small grants programme.  The full reports can be found at http://democracy.towerhamlets.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=720&MId=8828, agenda items 6.1 and 6.2.

The key points set out at the Cabinet meeting by the Mayor and the Cabinet Member for Resources and the VCS, Councillor Candida Ronald, were:

1. This funding programme focusses on outcomes for local residents and making a positive impact on their lives.  Links very clearly to the priorities for the borough set out in the Tower Hamlets Plan.

2. The themes, priorities and outcomes framework for the Local Community Fund have been produced through a process of co-production with the voluntary and community sector.  The process will continue and we will continue to co-produce the final prospectus for the fund during the next few months.

3. Maintaining the amount of money allocated to funding VCS activities demonstrates confidence and trust in the sector to deliver good quality services for local residents at a time of austerity when difficult choices have to be made.

4. The new programme will be open, transparent and accessible through:

Involvement of the VCS in developing the programme at every stage;
External assessment of bids, and
Clear separation of the role of Members and officers in decision making.

5. The programme will have a local focus.  The criteria and assessment of bids will reflect the value of ‘local connection’.

6. Training and support will be provided for organisations to make sure they have the opportunity to submit good quality funding bids.

7. Support will be available for MSG funded organisations facing significant change in funding levels after 1 October 2019

8. The Local Community Fund will sit alongside the new small grants programme which will provide funding of up to £5,000 for small scale innovation, local community action, community cohesion, prevention and the development of local partnerships.

Funding Themes and Priorities

The first thematic sessions have been set up and begin later this month.  These sessions will bring participants up to date with the development of the programme and how it will roll out over the next few months.  The main focus of each session will be to take the priorities and high level outcomes set out in the programme and develop the more specific, detailed outcomes which form the basis for the funding bids organisations will be making.

This is one of the most crucial pieces of the jigsaw.  It will take the higher level discussions we have had so far about this funding programme to the detailed discussion of what organisations will be trying to achieve and the activities they need to be developing.

Previous funding from the Council has been quite clearly linked to service areas.  The themes in the Local Community Fund do not.  They are cross cutting and all include priorities from at least two service areas.  It is therefore important that you look at all of the themes to see which priorities link to the activities your organisations provides or might be able to provide. 

The dates we have so far are:

14 Nov (pm)              Digital Inclusion
23 Nov (am)              Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing
26 Nov (pm)              Information and Advice
30 Nov (am)              Employment and Skills

Community Safety will be announced shortly.  We may also repeat workshops for some of the bigger themes. 

There will be an opportunity to contribute to the discussion through network events such as the ASB and Violent Crime networking event and the Digital Inclusion Forum.  Written contributions will also be invited as the work develops.

You can book places on the sessions through this page.  Booking details for the earlier sessions will be available at the beginning of next week.

Bidding, Assessment and Monitoring

In parallel with the development of the themes and priorities we will be looking at the bidding process, eligibility criteria, assessment scheme, funding contracts and monitoring.  There will be workshops on this during December and January.  Details will be announced in future updates.

More information

We have started to compile a list of frequently asked questions. These will be updated periodically as we get more questions so if you have a question, particularly one which might be relevant to other organisations, please send it to david.freeman@towerhamlets.gov.uk.  Please find the  current list of FAQs here.


Update on Local Community Fund (formerly Community Commissioning) - 25th October 2018 

The Council has published proposals for the new Local Community Fund which will be considered by the Mayor and Cabinet on 31st October.  You can read the report and proposals in full at http://democracy.towerhamlets.gov.uk/documents/s137157/6.1%20Local%20Com...

The Local Community Fund is what was known by its working title, Community Commissioning and is the voluntary sector funding programme which will succeed the current Mainstream Grants programme (MSG) which comes to an end in September 2019. 

The programme has been developed through a process of co-production, where voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and the Council work together as equal partners. Since the process began in January, over 100 organisations have contributed through the workshops, open one to one surgeries and individual conversations. 

The early discussions about the core principles and shape of the new programme were reported to Cabinet in March.

Following further co-production work with the VCS in the spring and early summer, the draft framework for the programme, setting out themes, priorities and high level outcomes, was published last month (https://thcvs.org.uk/sites/default/files/Community%20Commissioning%20Pro...). 

The new report sets out the themes, priorities and high level outcomes for the new programme, the funding process, training and support which will be available to organisations and the budget that will be available.  With any change there will be some organisations which will not get as much council funding as they have in the past, possibly none at all.  The report therefore sets out the transitional arrangements which will be made for those organisations.

The Council has been listening to VCS organisations and their concerns about the changes which the new funding programme will bring about.  As a result of this it is proposed in the report that they will not be using the formal procurement route to commission the new programme.  It is proposed that, instead, the Council develops a process which will have the openness, fairness and transparency of procurement but be more accessible to smaller organisations and with a clear local focus.  The Council will work with the sector to develop the bidding process, funding criteria and requirements, scoring and the assessment process.  It is also proposed that the bids to the new fund will be evaluated independently and the final decisions delegated to relevant senior officers in the Council.

The revised process will change the timetable for the roll out of the Local Community Fund programme.  The Concil  will still have the new funding in place for 1 October 2019 but the timeline will be slightly different.  The proposed timeline is: 

Nov - Jan - Co-design of service specifications
Feb - Finalisation of prospectus
Mar - Apr - Programme open
May - Jun - Evaluation of proposals
July - Awards
Jul - Sept- Mobilisation

The update on 4 October set out the next stage in the development of the programme, particularly the service specifications and the training programme.  The planned sessions will change in the light of the proposed revised process and deatils will be published shortly.

Update 24th October 2018

In this update, we have the latest news about the Community Commissioning programme, which will now be know as the Local Community Fund Programme, the new Voluntary and Community Sector Grants Programme and a heads up about four key workshops.

Local Community Fund Programme 

The Community Commissioning programme will be known as the 'Local Community Fund Programme'. The report going to Cabinet sets out the themes, priorities and outcomes for the proposed new programme co-produced with the VCS. It also sets out budget proposals for the proposed new programme and a timetable for implementation.

The report going to Cabinet next week sets out the Council's approach to VCS funding and the coproduction of outcomes-focused programme of activities. The Council have set out that the programme will not see a reduction in funding going to the VCS in the change from the current Mainstream Grants Programme to the new Local Community Fund Programme. Consideration is also being given to those organisations who rent premises from the Council, so that there is a neutral effect on money going to the voluntary sector. This avoids a situation where groups receive funding with one hand, and hand it back to Council through rent charges.

Other issues clarified in the paper going to Cabinet includes the overall budget allocations, the increase in budget allocation to Information and Advice, the two new themes around Digital Inclusion and Community Safety and the transitional arrangements being put in place to support the voluntary sector. From page 17 of the Cabinet report is a table setting out the five funding themes of the programme, Health and Wellbeing, Digital Inclusion, Community Safety, and Information and Advice, along with outcomes for each theme and examples of activity.

Next Steps - Coproduction Workshops

The next round of engagement with the VCS will commence in November with a series of workshops for each theme in the programme to develop the specifications for services which will contribute towards the agreed priorities and outcomes.

The workshops will cover each of the funding themes in the programme;

Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing
Digital Inclusion and Awareness
Information and Advice
Employment and Skills

Once we have more details from the Council about when these workshops will be held we will update the sector, both on this webpage and via our bulletins.

Voluntary and Community Sector Grants Programme

The second paper going to Cabinet next week sets out the new corporate grants programme which will  complement the Local Community Fund Programme to replace the Council’s current grants programmes. The proposal sets out the six individual funding themes reflecting different areas of VCS activity which meet the Council’s criteria for funding through grants rather than commissioned contracts.

The new programme will be launched early in the New Year and publicised through the various established VCS networks as well as through the Council’s normal communications channels. In addition there will be specific campaigns to target smaller community groups and organisations that may not have previously sought funding from the Council or which may be outside the more established funding networks.

From page 10 of the paper going to Cabinet is the proposed grants programme prospectus where the grant themes are set out:

• Innovation to encourage innovation or pilot something new, especially where there is a gap;
• Prevention to promote grass roots activity to reduce the need for statutory services;
• Neighbourhood action to promote local neighbourhood initiatives
• Community cohesion to develop community resilience, promote cultural opportunities and reduce social isolation;
• Capacity building to enable smaller organisations to become more sustainable, where appropriate providing core funding to lever in other resources, and
• Partnership working making the sector more effective through closer partnership working within the sector and across sectors


UPDATE 4th October 2018

Update from Tower Hamlets Council - VCS Community Commissioning Programme

Programme Priorities and Outcomes Framework

Following the work carried out earlier in the year, the draft themes and priorities framework for the community commissioning programme has been through the Council’s internal consultation processes as it progresses towards being considered by the Mayor and Cabinet at the end of October.  It reflects the priorities and outcomes which emerged from the co-production work earlier in the year with the only significant change being in the Information and Advice theme where there has been further work with the advice organisations to refine the priorities and outcomes for that theme.

The framework - click here to download -  now shows the five themes with their respective priorities and the high level outcomes which they are seeking to achieve.  The priorities and outcomes also indicate the lead directorate in the Council which will be responsible for taking them forward.  Some are joint leads where there is a significant overlap.

The Council will now be looking at the themes set out in the programme in more detail with workshops for each theme starting the process of developing service specifications.  These workshops will bring together service providers from the sector, commissioners and service leads to shape the detail.  The workshops will begin later this month and the timetable will be published shortly. 


The Council has made a commitment to minimising the barriers to smaller organisations participating in the Community Commissioning Programme.  They will be working with THCVS and others to deliver a programme of training and support to demystify the procurement processes which many organisations are unfamiliar with and provide capacity building through group and one to one sessions focusing on bid writing skills, outcomes and outputs, working in consortia and partnerships, developing a co-production approach and resource management.  The timetable of events will be published shortly.

Procurement process

They are also committed to ensuring the processes are proportionate to the levels of funding available.  This will include making use of the Council’s streamlined process for lower value contracts known as Request for Quote (RfQ) and, where higher value contracts have to go through the full tender process, keeping the level of detail required proportionate.

One of the most frequently expressed concerns from VCS organisations is that the procurement process will encourage larger regional and national organisations to bid, potentially to the detriment of local services.  The procurement process must be open and transparent and for higher value contracts may not give any favourable consideration simply because a supplier is local.  However, Commissioning has at its heart gaining best value for local people in the delivery of services.  Where the local connection and knowledge of the community is an integral element of the value of a service, this will be part of the evaluation of tender process.  This means that bids will be required to show local knowledge and local connection and that the value of this will be reflected in the evaluation and scoring process.  The use of RfQs for lower value contracts, where considering local purchasing and the value to the local economy is encouraged, will also assist in ensuring local experience and expertise is fully recognised and valued. 

The Council will be providing training and support for organisations that have not used the tendering processes, help them register and give advice if they encounter any difficulties.


The timetable will be slightly different depending on the procurement route.  The table below sets out the timescale for new services to be in place by 1 October 2019.

Late autumn - Finalisation of services to be procured through full tender process

Late autumn/winter - Bids invited through full tender process &Finalisation of services to be procured through RfQ

Winter/spring - Bids for lower value contracts invited through RfQ process

Spring/early summer - Bid evaluation

Early summer - Decisions made and contracts awarded

Summer/early autumn - Contract mobilisation

Transitional support

Until decisions are made on funding specific services it is not possible to predict precisely the impact of the change from MSG funding to Community Commissioning.  However, it is inevitable that in any change there are winners and losers.  It is therefore important to have measures in place to mitigate any potential disproportionate impact.  The measures planned are:

A programme of support for VCS organisations available in advance of the end of MSG to help organisations in the transition from MSG to either alternative funding or an orderly change in the level of service delivered;
Potential funding through the new corporate grants programme, and
Potential support from the Council’s Emergency Fund.

Further information

The Council will be providing further updates and FAQs over the coming weeks and months.  Links will be sent to relevant pages on the Council’s website along with ensuring the most up to date information is also available on the THCVS website.

If you have questions or would like further information, please contact THCVS at info@thcvs.org.ukand we will get the answer and then also post it up on this page.


UPDATE - 4th June 2018

We attach a copy of a letter from the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, concerning Community Commissioning and the extension of the current Mainstream Grants Programme to 30 September 2019.

The decisions on the individual grant extensions to 30 September 2019 will be made by the Council’s Grants Determination (Cabinet) Sub-Committee on 6th June 2018.  The agenda is published on the Council’s website later today and you will be able to find it at http://democracy.towerhamlets.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=812&MId=8739.   

If you are an MSG funded organisation and have any queries about how the extension may affect you, please contact your monitoring officer in the Third Sector Team if they have not already been in touch with you.

The purpose of extending MSG is to allow more time for engagement in the development of the new Community Commissioning programme. The council's Community Commissioning Team will be providing more information shortly.

What this means for MSG-funded groups:

Most MSG-funded groups will have by now been contacted by their relevant council contact.
Most MSG-funded groups will see their grants (subject to Cabinet approval on 6 June) extended up to 30th September 2019
MSG-funded groups will have more time to influece the shape Community Commissioning Programme and to prepare themselves to transition to it
THCVS is here to support any groups who have questions or concerns about this change - please do contact us if you need adivce or support around any of these issues - call 020 8980 8427 or email Damian

From 1st October 2019, the new community commissioning programme will start

What does this mean for the wider voluntary sector in Tower Hamlets

Those groups who do not receive MSG funding will have the opportunity to engage with additional co-production opportunities with the council which will inform and shape the new programme, as well as take part in additional training, networking opportunities, and partnership and consortium-building to respond to the new commissioning programme.

UPDATE -19th April 2018 

Community Commissioning Workshop - Detailed Proposals, Priorities, and Themes (Second Workshop)

Download Workshop slides here

Download Timeline for introduction of Community Commissioning

Download Community Commissioning Cross-cutting Principles and Themes

The well attended Community Commissioning workshop on Monday 16 April, looked at the emerging shape of the new proposed Community Commissioning Programme. The programme will have a number of Cross-cutting Principles, which all commissioned services will be expected to evidence in tender bids, and during delivery of commissioned services.

The Cross-cutting Principles are split between overarching outcomes - 'Empowerment and Community Cohesion' and 'Reducing Poverty', and two Delivery Principles, 'Preventative Approaches' and 'Co-production'.

Sitting underneath these cross-cutting principles, there have been identified five overall Community Commissioning themes:

Inclusion, Health, and Wellbeing
Digital Inclusion
Information, Advice, and Guidance
Employment and Skills
Community Safety

The second part of the workshop looked in more detail at the indicative outcomes and the related directorate. Participants were asked about their thoughts on the outcomes, and discussion around what might be missing from the draft plans.

UPDATE - 9th April 2019 

Community Commissioning Workshop - Detailed Proposals, Priorities, and Themes (Second Workshop)

Book your place here

Monday 16th April 2018at 2-5pm,  at the Professional Development Centre, 229 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AB.

Tower Hamlets Council is holding the next Community Commissioning Workshop

Tower Hamlets Council has been holding a series of open workshops, co-facilitated by Carney Green and the New Economics Foundation, to design the new Community Commissioning programme, that will succeed Mainstream Grants in April 2019. This workshop follows on from our workshop on the 27th March and will provide the main opportunity to determine the final detail of the programme.

Please register to confirm your attendance and find further workshop information on this page.

Further information on previous workshops can be found below.

You are also welcome to contact Elvis Langley on 020 7364 4150, or email elvis.langley@towerhamlets.gov.uk to find out more.

The last Community Commissioning workshop, on the 27th March 2018, brought people together to discuss progress so far with the Community Commissioning process. The workshop sought to

Clarifying evidence of need and stakeholders

Identify priority outcomes for named stakeholders –informed by objective criteria

Begin mapping outcomes for priority outcomes

You can find slides from this workshop here and further details for the next Community Commissioning workshop below.

While the last workshop reflected an open process, the next workshop in this series will move further into the detail of the information received by the council and determine the final shape of the programme. It is recommend that groups attendance this workshop, as the last workshop in this series. However, if you are unable to attend, we will be developing an online survey for input and you are also welcome to continue the dialogue directly with Elvis Langley on 020 7364 4150, or email elvis.langley@towerhamlets.gov.uk


UPDATE - 5th March 2018:


"Tower Hamlets Council is holding a short information and networking event about the Community Commissioning programme and other proposed changes to council funding for voluntary and community sector groups at 5pm on Monday the 12th March 2018 at the Reach Community Hub, 11 Oliphant Street, E14.

Please register to confirm your attendance here 

Join Tower Hamlets Council staff and Mayor John Biggs, at this information and networking event to discuss:

The end of the Mainstream Grants scheme (from April 2019) and design of the new Community Commissioning programme that will succeed it

Changes to Council grants outlined in the new Council Grants Policy (from April 2019)

Opportunities for the local organisations and community groups to influence the changes, and how to be prepared for them

We will also discuss capacity building support around the changes being offered to the sector.

This event is being held at the mid-point of the co-design of the new Community Commissioning programme (which will be the main focus of the event). So far over 50 organisations have helped shape the overall approach for the process. The next stage is to design the programme detail, including themes and strands. 

Tea/coffee and light refreshments will be offered. The Reach Community Hub is on the pedestrianised part of Oliphant Street, which is accessible via Woolmore Street, or Poplar High Street. Here it is on google maps.

The next Community Commissioning workshop will be held on the 27th March, more information here. Please expect more detail in the next few days.

If you wish to discuss this event, or anything connected to the Community Commissioning process, please call Elvis Langley on 020 7364 4150 or email elvis.langley@towerhamlets.gov.uk


The successor to the MSG will be a programme of commissioned services, as laid out in the 2016-19 Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy.  The new programme will be called Community Commissioning. Carney Green and NEF Consulting have been appointed to support Tower Hamlets Council to co-design the new programme with the Voluntary and Community Sector.

The Community Commissioning budget is not decided. The final amount will also depend on the balance of grants funded under the new Council Grants Policy (which THCVS has been working to develop) and Community Commissioning.

The Council intends to open services for tender in the summer of 2018.  The new programme should start in April 2019.

The co-design process will have two phases:

1. The Framework

In January 2018, the Council held some internal sessions and three public workshops (Jan 16th and Jan 18th - slides here, and a summary session on Jan 24th - slides here) to establish:

Overall aims and emerging outcomes of the Community Commissioning Programme

The approach the programme should take to establish these aims

Good practice to include (and what to avoid)

Capacity building support that organisations might need in order to respond to tenders

Around 50 VCS organisations and individuals (including THCVS) attended the sessions. Flip chart notes from the initial two workshops can be seen here and here. There is also a report from Carney Green detailing the full process so far.

Overall approach

According to the notes from the workshops, participants suggested that the programme should focus on:

Preventative approaches - early intervention could apply to all areas of provision (for example, sports, criminal justice, arts) as well as provide sustainability and value for money

Reducing Poverty –  including employment and skils work, tackling in-work poverty and increasing prosperity

Co-production - An overall focus on co-production with the community at service design and delivery level

Empowerment and Community Cohesion – services should work toward  cohesion and individual empowerment, including improved understanding and tolerance, active involvement in local communities, decreased isolation and the development of positive relationships

The feedback from the workshops was that these overarching principles should exist across all themes and strands developed for the programme, to develop a common commissioning approach that can be applied across different services, with different supplemental outcomes.


Following input at the workshops, the Council has suggested some sevice design principles for the  new Community Commissioning Programme.  These include:

A supportive and collaborative approach to monitoring

Streamlined application and monitoring, proportionate to the size of the contract

A focus on outcomes, with flexibility in as to how outcomes are achieved.  This should encourage innovation and creativity and value local solutions, knowledge and expertise.

Valuing partnership work, but not requiring it

A transparent tendering process that weights toward local knowledge and expertise, as well as other factors

Reasonable timelines to respond to tenders

Capacity building for the sector to be able to effectively respond to tenders

A programme that works in synergy with existing commissioning and strategic priorities

Co-designed commissioning outcomes where useful

Building evidence for local need and the impact of the approaches developed - commissioned organisations will be expected to evidence the impact of their approaches to address an evidenced need in the borough

Emerging outcomes

The suggested outcomes for the programme were broad ranging and require grouping into final themes and strands.  Read the intial notes on outcomes here.

2. Detailed proposals

The next phase will be to look at the detailed proposals for the Community Commissioning Programme. This needs to take place after the current proposals are agreed by Tower Hamlets Cabinet on 20th March.

This phase of the programme development will include matching emerging themes from the first workshops to existing Council priorities and packaging these into different themes and strands.

A capacity building programme, including a number of open workshops will be designed, to help organisations respond effectively to tenders. These will be offered from April onward.

More information on workshop dates will be available soon.

What does the new programme mean for VCS organisations in Tower Hamlets

The shift to commissioning services will mean that organisations used to grants will need to adapt to the new bidding process. A capacity building programme will be carried out from April 2018 to help organisations respond to tenders for Community Commissioning Programme services in the summer. It will be important to know the governance and other requirements that come hand in hand with commissioning, as well as how to navigate the Council’s tender portal.

Other changes include some of the commitments to more streamlined monitoring and an outcomes focus within the programme. However this will also require a change in the way organisations may be used to evidencing their work. Commissioning also opens up a greater deal of competition and while the focus on local knowledge and reach will help organisations within the borough showcase their work, this will have to be evidenced.

The new contracts are due to start in a little over a year's time, so it's important that local organisations, paricularly those with less experience of commissioning, start preparing now.

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?

The development of the Community Commissioning Programme is being led by Elvis Langley at Tower Hamlets Council.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the process or would like to pass on your ideas, please  contact him Elvis.Langley@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 8364 4150.

THCVS would also like to hear from you if you have comments or questions on any of the above.  Please mail Kirsty or Gemma directly or call the main office number; 020 8980 8427.

*  THCVS is undertaking a separate piece of work about the new grants programme.  We've set up a separate page on our site for this work.