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Commissioning should be at the heart of improving outcomes for children and young people in every local area. Commissioning is fundamentally a ‘systems redesign’ tool to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. An effective commissioning process enables an organisation to make the most efficient and sustainable choices by taking a holistic view of outcomes, needs, and resources (including money; people; markets etc).
The commissioning process was designed to be used by all those working in children, young people and maternity services including political leaders, senior management, commissioners and procurers, providers, corporate procurement, finance, legal and other support staff.
The process, which needs to be underpinned by a focus on capacity, capability and culture, and can be described in the following (cyclical) stages:
Realising local outcomes, needs, resources and priorities and agree what the desired outcome and response should be. This involves gathering the views of service users, providers, children, young people, and families so that services can be configured most appropriately to address those needs within available resources. This should take into account – and inform – other needs assessment processes, for example the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).
Map out and consider different ways in which the desired outcomes can be achieved effectively, efficiently, equitably and in a sustainable way. This way the most appropriate provision will be in place regardless of who delivers it, for example: new services tendered for; ineffective services decommissioned; and low cost-no cost solutions identified. Current and potential future providers should also be involved at this stage to add their expertise to the discussion.
Implementing the plan using the resource available in the best possible way. This may be in full partnership or informal cooperation with individual partners undertaking activities aligned within the agreed plan.
Monitoring service delivery against expected outcomes and report how well it is doing against the plan. This would include feedback from users and providers - and effective programme, contract and risk management.
For more information, please see Good Commissioning: Principles and Practice, which can be downloaded from this page.
Commissioning Support Programme legacy
In 2008 The Department of Children Schools and Families and the Department of Health sponsored the Commissioning Support Programme (CSP) over a two and half year period. The programme was designed to improve commissioning across England and leave a sustainable legacy. Please have a look at the evaluation of the programme. The Commissioners kitbag, which can be accessed from this page, forms a core part of this legacy.
Local authorities have welcomed the Government’s vision of a more localist approach and are keen to take greater ownership and responsibility for improving services. To support these changes, the sector is working with Department for Education officials to develop a sector-led model for improvement support and challenge. This includes working towards improved transparency in the processes for procuring Children’s Services.
A Children’s Improvement Board has been established with responsibility for the leadership, development and implementation of the model. Further information about the board and any new developments is available.
To further support improvements, we are aware that some local authorities are considering new forms of delivery of children’s services including mutuals and joint venture partnerships with voluntary sector charities as a possible model for delivery. For anyone interested in setting up as a mutual, further information is available from the Mutuals Information Service.
Commissioning contact email
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A downloadable PDF of guidance designed by the Commissioning Support Programme to support practitioners.
PDF, 944 Kb
Improving life chances for children and young people in local communities in England is at the heart of the work that the Commissioning Support Programme (CSP) undertakes.
The Commissioners Kitbag brings together a comprehensive suite of standalone, practical resources that CSP has developed with commissioners, in response to their priorities. The contents of the Kitbag are all designed to complement each other and we will be adding to them over the coming weeks. Do take a look around and email us if you have comments or suggestions.
The Local Productivity Programme is the Local Government (LG) Group's response to these budgetary challenges.
Materials around cost effectiveness and early intervention.
An evaluation of the Commissioning Support Programme.