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Raising the scoring for social value in the commissioning process could have a profound effect on how local government works with its partners and on the outcomes it is able to deliver for citizens. This is the conclusion of our new report All Together Now: Whole Systems Commissioning for Councils and the Voluntary Sector.
Smaller charities tend to have closer links to communities and specialist knowledge based on their close relationships with users. However, they are in danger of being left behind with the current commissioning process as they do not have the bid-writing capabilities of larger organisations. If smaller charities cannot access council funding, the biggest consequence is on people and communities as specialist, grass roots services may cease to operate. Valuing more than just price will level the playing field for those bidding for the tender.
While in the current economic climate, price will inevitably remain an essential part of the criteria for any commissioning process, elevating the weighting of social value will allow commissioners to look beyond short-term cost and to a longer-term view of value for money and quality of services for people.
This is part of a wider raft of measures designed to put the needs and ambitions of people at the heart of commissioning. This report takes a “whole systems” approach to ensure services are working in an integrated way wrapped around people. Getting this right will require greater collaboration between commissioners and providers, and between all shapes and sizes of VCS organisations to put people first.
Report co-author Dr Claire Mansfield, Head of Research at NLGN said:
“As local councils have moved from being primarily grant-givers to commissioning bodies, we could see that the process was leaving many small and medium-sized charities unable to take part in servicing their local communities as they once had. But they still retained the local knowledge, experience and – vitally – relationships with people that councils don’t necessarily have. What we found through our research is that if all key partners work together we can create a commissioning process that focusses on the needs and ambitions of people. It is only by doing so, that councils can truly achieve the maximum value from their commissioning process.”