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ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report
ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report
ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report
ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report
ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report
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ADASS SW commissioning roundtable report

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Fascinating report of an ADASS roundtable in the south west on commissioning. Worth reading for an insight into the challenges commissioners face and some of the ways they're thinking of addressing …

Fascinating report of an ADASS roundtable in the south west on commissioning. Worth reading for an insight into the challenges commissioners face and some of the ways they're thinking of addressing these challenges.

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  • 1. AN ACTION LEARNING WORKSHOP TO SUPPORT “THINK LOCAL, ACT PERSONAL” : MAY 2012South West Forum and ADASS organised a workshop for senior commissioners and procurementteams to enable an action learning exercise with senior leaders from the social purpose sector. Theaim of the event was to empower commissioners to do things differently by identifying where there isthe power to influence and busting some of the myths that exist.The event helped to develop a clearer understanding of the constraints and barriers tocommissioning across both the public sector and social purpose sector, as well as providing anopportunity to network and share good practice and to challenge poor or restrictive practice.The workshop highlighted both challenges and opportunities around social value and personalisationand the following document aims to summarise the main points. We hope that it will be useful toboth statutory sector and social purpose organisations as a basis for ongoing discussion and debate. Top Tips on Commissioning for Social Value  Focus on relationship building to establish a co-productive approach. Understand each other’s priorities for development and create opportunities for commissioners and social purpose organisations1 to come together and share ideas.  Understand what the local market wants and what people need now and in the future. Track how people use their Personal Budget. Consider commissioning social purpose organisations to find out what local communities want and improve co- design and co-production of services.  Engage elected members on commissioning for social value.  The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 encourages incorporating social value in procurement but service specifications need to improve, with a better understanding of “outcomes”. We need to work together to design processes for evaluating social value outcomes and build them into procurement processes.  Be honest and decommission services if they are not working. This applies as much to the social purpose sector as to any other provider.  Social purpose organisations need to market themselves more to promote their “offer” both to councils but also to individuals.  Think carefully about the current pressure on partnership working. More time and a co-productive approach to design of the specification might avoid the need for such prescription. 1 The term “social purpose organisation” refers to organisations and businesses with social and community objectives which do not distribute profits and includes social enterprises and voluntary and community groups 1
  • 2. The following is a summary of the key themes that emerged from the workshop : Theme 1 - How to Challenge Political Leadership?There was general agreement on the need to help politicians understand the value of services. Thiscould be done through highlighting evidence of the impact of policies and flagging up when people’sviews are ignored and evidence is not used. Local Commissioners/Authorities are constrained bynational policy and social purpose organisations need to make more use of national and regional socialpurpose infrastructure organisations to inform national politicians. There is a need to be clear on thedifference between co-design and consultation and politicians need to be involved from the start.Suggestions included training for elected members/councillors on commissioning policies and aproposal that equality impact assessments should be done by an outside body.Theme 2 : How to support the social purpose sector to be What does social value mean?more secure? There was no one definition but theWe should NOT focus on making organisations secure but on following are some of the group’smaking services secure; regardless of who provides them. ideas:Commissioners and politicians need to think longer term User-led, user-designed services(multi-year funding) and develop frameworks to help this. Care driven not cash drivenThe more communication there is about future Building resilient communities andcommissioning intentions, the more secure providers will individualsfeel. Promoting reciprocity and self-helpA focus on outcomes allows for flexibility in outputs over a Inclusion, belonging and communitieslonger time period. Enabling people to live as they wantCommissioners need to better understand the social purposesector so that commissioning avoids unintended Better use of resources to supportconsequences. peopleThe social purpose sector needs to remember its mission and Looking at strengths as well as neednot be led by public sector agendas and contracts 2
  • 3. “THE CURRENCY SHOULD BE CARE AND NOT CASH” (QUOTE FROM THE DAY)Theme 3 : How do we manage bureaucracy?Certain elements of bureaucracy are essential Theme 4 : How do we gain improved sharedand they primarily concern finance, equality and understanding?audit. Bureaucracy is not a bad thing in itselfand can help to avert problems. Networking opportunities are really important and we need to create space to share views.However, bureaucracy can be a barrier. There also needs to be space for one to oneTechnology has, in many cases, made things conversations.worse. Potential providers need to be proactive –There needs to be greater efforts to streamline engaging in local/community opportunities.and make processes proportionate to the valueof the contract. Ideas include: standardising Commissioners need to publish commissioningforms; sharing best practice within intentions in good time, providing consistentorganisations e.g. between local authority information in the same way/place.departments; and using grants. We need to use IT better – a Twitter account forCommissioners also need to take risks – small organisations e.g. ‘Supply Bristol’informed by local networks and relationships. (http://twitter.com/supply_bristol) Blogs can help share information.Providers need to be better able to challenge. Theme 5 : How do we capture/build on innovation? Sharing We need a different system to cultivate Understanding innovation. Effective innovation is something that Improving achieves outcomes and greater freedom Engaging Services needs to be given to providers around how, including building on existing work. We need to recognise the flexibility in procurement legislation and look more creatively at co-production and shared Innovating Challenging research and development. Payment by results and social impact bonds can potentially support innovation but their structure is not sufficiently understood by either side. 3
  • 4. Theme 6 : How do we improve the co-design of services? Quotes from the We need more research on whether there is a correlation between time on Day co-production and the impact on the service over the longer term. Co-design is positive but there are questions around how to get the right “We need to people involved and understanding the tipping point from co-design to legal process. give and take” Consultation should be on outcomes – not how to get there. Commissioning should start with the need. “Pleased that the VCS A co design portal (NESTA model) could improve skills on all sides. But this would need to be resourced correctly especially in terms of time. acknowledged http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/public_services_lab/coproduction as an excellent provider” What are current social value priorities?Theme 7 : How do we improve focus on resourcemanagement NOT financial management? Individuals feel respected and made to feel part of their community.There are clear benefits to measuring impact in non-financialas well as financial terms and focussing on best value and not People need to be given informationjust value for money. to enable them to make choices about their lifestyles.There is a challenge in putting a financial value on socialoutcomes and a need for a shared understanding of the There are lots of skills in the“added value” of the social purpose sector. community and these need to be harnessed.We need a better knowledge and understanding of what ‘Social value’ should not just beprovision is already being delivered. equated with saving money andThe cost of monitoring needs to be factored into the ‘getting more for less’.tender/cost of the service; There needs to be greater consistency around jargon and aWe need to look at setting up pilots for innovation (outside shared understanding of what isthe funding frameworks); setting up forums to consider meant by ‘outcomes’ and ‘measuringresults/ best practice; and establishing mechanisms to enablesocial purpose organisations engage with commissioners (e.g. social value’.online groups/providers sharing services and resources). Any new processes for monitoring and evaluation need to be proportionate and ensure value for money. 4
  • 5. Key similarities and differencesTheme 8 : What is the effect of between statutory and social purpose organisationsmeasuring social value?There needs to be an appreciation of Shared concern that commissioning Different cultures“total value” and a move away from is a technical process and a shareddecisions based solely on costs. frustration at systems and processes getting in the way of goodHowever, seeking to measure social commissioningvalue does bring some risks: There is a concern about the focus Different attitudes to  It could deter engagement of on best value and efficiency risk social purpose organisations if the process is too exacting and There is a desire for a common Different the definition of what to approach to measuring social value understanding of what measure becomes restrictive. It is meant by social value will be important to keep it simple. There is a shared commitment to Different constraints personalisation but shared concerns around action  There are different local about the impact of this in practice definitions of social value which A shared desire to get rid of waste Different commercial presents challenges. and duplication realities  There is a danger that social A common desire to achieve the Neither sector is value activity is not same outcomes and an underlying unified commissioned elsewhere and is set of shared values seen as a ‘free’ good which may make it unsustainable for social Complicit in retaining services which purpose organisations. are “popular” Both parties have an interest in shaping the market For more information about the event and a copy of the detailed group discussions please contact Deborah Fisher: Deborah@southwestforum.org.uk The event was supported and facilitated by Virginia McCririck: www.peoplelogical.com South West Forum, The Innovation Centre, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RN T. 01392 247901 E. admin@southwestforum.org.uk www.southwestforum.org.uk Registered Charity 1102082. Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England Company No 4978095 Registered Office as above. 5

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