Commissioning and procurement

Includes ACEVO factsheets and Best Value Guidance from CLG

London Funders' Publications
The personalisation agenda
(2009) Report of a meeting on personal budgets for health and social care

Mutuals: progress in transfer of public services
A Cabinet Office website collates information on the experience of developing mutuals and some sources of advice. One case study is of the employee-led mutual that is running four former RB Kensington and Chelsea youth centres and supporting some of the other youth work in the borough (here)

External Publications
ACEVO factsheets and publications on commissioning and procurement
A wide range of resources and guides to support commissioning and procurement, including introductions to the topics, a procurement dictionary, tendering support and involving small groups in public service delivery.

The Art of Commissioning: how commissioners can release the potential of the arts and cultural sector
New Economics Foundation (April 2016)
This report brings together insights and practical resources from NEF’s work with two local authorities to help commissioners engage better with the arts and cultural sector.

Benefiting everyone
A short and graphic publication setting out the ways community groups add value to public service design and delivery and can help commissioners meet their objectives, creating savings, designing and delivering services that respond better to local needs and being the driving force for strengthened and empowered neighbourhoods.

Best practice guidance for local authorities and the VCS
NCVO report and recommendations for local authorities on ways they can support the VCS adapt to changes in funding. It includes case studies from councils that have been creative in supporting the VCS.

Best Value Guidance
Communitites and Local Government, 2011
Statutory guidance on Best Value, applying to local authorities and others including the Police. It encourages councils to consider social value as part of overall value in considering service provision.

Beyond Big Contracts: Commissioning public services for better outcomes
Dan Crowe, Tom Gash, Henry Kippin, January 2014
This report is the output of a joint project between Collaborate and the Institute for Government, supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. It aims to convey the experience of those organisations and workers most closely involved in delivering complex services, such as adult social care, mental health drug and alcohol rehabilitation and special educational needs. Among other findings, the report discusses how the Government's focus on payment by results (PbR) is hindering the social sector's ability to help the most vulnerable

Collaboration and collective impact: how can funders, NGOs, governments and citizens achieve more together?
Collective Impact Forum (April 2016)
A blog by Geoff Mulgan looks at what has been learned about collaboration and collective impact and how practice could be improved.

Commissioning and procurement-ACEVO factsheets and publications 
Guides to assist the VCS with commissioning and procurement, including introductions to the subject, a “dictionary”, how to write winning tenders, involving small groups in public service delivery. A couple of these are particularly aimed at commissioners as well as VCS:

Commissioning in Crisis- Lloyds Bank Foundation, December 2016

A new report published by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales finds that central and local government are using shockingly complicated and inappropriate contracting and commissioning processes to secure vital public services. The experiences of small charities taking part in commissioning processes reveal a system in crisis which leaves charities threatened with closure and the future of public services, including homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health support, at risk.

Download here

European rules on state aid
European Commission, 2010
Aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation and financing of services by public authorities, especially at local level. It sets out to be user-friendly in defining the terminology in this technical field (service of general interest, act of entrustment, etc); it explains that public authorities can use public procurement rules and, at the same time, ensure quality, innovation, continuity and comprehensiveness of social services; and it clarifies the conditions under which the provision of social services can be limited to non-profit providers. It is an update of the FAQs on State aid and public procurement (November 2007).

An evaluation of approaches to commissioning young people's services
Ofsted, 2011
The report argues that local authorities are giving ‘insufficient consideration’ to the voluntary sector when commissioning services for young people. It challenges local authorities to review their provision of support for young people.

Evaluation of the tender support project
NAVCA, 2011
Report on the impact of the tender support project which NAVCA delivered as one part of the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning, commissioned by the Cabinet Office and led by Local Government Improvement and Development. The programme aimed to increase awareness of commissioning from the third sector; see more third sector involvement throughout the commissioning cycle; and improve bidding practice in third sector organisations.

From Social Security to social productivity: a vision for 2020 public services
Public Services Trust, 2010
The final report of the Commission on 2020 Public Services argues that UK public services are increasingly unsustainable and calls for their reconfiguring around the needs and capabilities of citizens, based on the principle of social productivity - greater social responsibility and more intelligent collaboration between citizens and public services. The 2020 Public Services Trust (2020 PST) is think tank and charity, based at the Royal Society of Arts and aims to stimulate deeper understanding of the challenges facing public services in the medium term. Its trustees include members of all three main political parties.

How can local authorities with less money support better outcomes for older people?
Centre for Policy on Ageing, published by Joseph Rowntree Foundation,  2011
This research shows that older people want and value low-level support (“that bit of help”) but the benefits of investing in this are realised over many years, making it harder to prove impact and protect funding. This summary highlights projects with some local authority involvement (as lead commissioner, subsidiary partner, or through small grants or seed-funding). They show the importance of involving users in shaping services and seeing this may lead in different directions from conventional social care.

How to decommission public services delivered by civil society organisations and maintain value for money
National Audit Office, 2011
A guide on how to plan and manage change and maintain value for money while doing so, designed for commissioners at a local level, and based on research conducted by the Office for Public Management and NCVO. It looks at existing guidance and experience of commissioning and provider roles for local authorities and primary care trusts.

How to Keep it Local: Five step guide for councillors and commissioners, Locality (January 2017)

Locality’s new How to Keep it Local: Five step guide for councillors and commissioners  is the handbook for pioneering councillors and commissioners across the country who prioritise local commissioning and delivery, leading to improved services for local people, savings for councils and economic resilience in their communities.

Download here

Influencing local commissioning for health and care
Regional Voices, 2012
Guidance for the VCS to understand and influence health and wellbeing boards, with an overview of these boards, joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and wellbeing strategies and the role of the voluntary sector. 

Involving users in commissioning local services
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2010
Key findings from an Age Concern London study that brought commissioners and service users together to discuss how service users can be better involved in shaping local services. It highlights service users’ experience and views of their involvement in shaping services alongside the experiences and views of commissioners when involving users. The research provides a concise summary of what is currently happening and what might be possible in the future shape of commissioning. Summary version.

Learning from the Commissioning Improvement Programme
Local Government Group, 2011
A report of Institute for Voluntary Action Research findings from the Commissioning Improvement Programme. See full impact evaluation.

NCVO and Serco  Code of Practice
NCVO and Serco, 2013
A guide to help the VCS work with the private sector, with the aim of improving relationships between prime and subcontractors in public services and avoid disproportionate financial risk for subcontractors. Serco has pledged to follow the guidance when it subcontracts within its public service contracts, and to encourage other outsourcing companies to sign up to the document.

Procuring for good
Social Enterprise UK (May 2016)
A comprehensive picture of how councils in England are using the Public Services (Social Value) Act shows that one in three (33%) now routinely consider social value in their procurement and commissioning, and one in four (24%) have a social value policy.

Prototyping in public services
A guide from NESTA outlining methodology that can help providers and commissioners better meet the needs of their communities – especially to help develop new and innovative services by testing ideas out early in the development cycle.

Radical Efficiency
NESTA, 2010
A report on different, better and lower cost public services through innovation and generating new perspectives on old problems to ensure a genuine shift in the nature and efficiency of the services on offer and transform them.

The role of the voluntary & community sector in commissioning support
The Nuffield Trust, November 2013
The Nuffield Trust has produced a report which looks at what role the voluntary & community sector can play in providing commissioning support to commissioners and commissioning support units, and what the challenges are.

State Aid – a beginner’s guide
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2010
BIS’ State Aid Branch has lead responsibility within the UK government for co-ordination and development of State Aid policy.

State Aid in public services
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2009
How the State Aid rules impact upon funding for the delivery of Public Services including Services of General Economic Interest. Guidance on the impact of EC legislation on the delivery of public services.

Sustainable health and social care: a briefing for commissioners and health and wellbeing boards
SCIE Report 59, 2012
Report exploring many aspects of sustainability in adult social care provision, including environmental risks, using examples and offering further references. Highly relevant in the context of social value in commissioning.

Valuing non-market impacts
HM Treasury, 2011
Annex to the Green Book, the government’s handbook on policy appraisal and evaluation. It states that valuing “the social” is important in decision-making. The Annex outlines techniques for valuing non-market impacts, and offers typical applications. While it recognises that these approaches can be complex it emphasises they "are equally as important as market impacts".

New Philanthropy Capital, 2010
How charities communicate their results to commissioners and how commissioners use this information. The report highlights how better understanding of results reporting on both sides can help charities improve their funding applications and reporting, and help commissioners make more appropriate demands for results information and improve their use of it.

When the going gets tough
Sarah Hedley and Iona Joy, New Philanthropy Capital, 2012
This report draws on a survey of the largest charities that earn at least part of their income from public sector contracts, to elicit hard-hitting, if not unexpected, messages. 62% of charities surveyed expected to dip into reserves to survive or have already done so; 73% either plan to make staff redundant in the next 12 months or have already done so; 65% have cut or planned to cut front-line services. Over 90% believe they face more risk in the current commissioning environment than before, the result of new funding mechanisms as well as cuts in third sector income. The report offers lessons for commissioners and charities and examples of adaptation to the new environment. Concerns include cash flow problems arising from impractical payment arrangements, competition from the private sector and squeezed sub-contracts.