Opening Public Services: a voluntary and community sector perspectiveAlison BlackwoodHead of Policy & KnowledgeLondon Voluntary Service Councilalison@lvsc.org.uk
The wider context • New commissioning arrangements (the Work Programme, GPs, LAs) • Health premiums and Joint Strategic Needs Assessments • Existing and new involvement duties • Outcome-based payments • Targets around % of small and medium-sized independent providers • Increasing personalisation • Social Value Act 2011 & Best Value
What do we need in London? “London has the most diverse population of all English regions, the highest rates of unemployment and child poverty and is one of the most unequal cities in the world. As such, reform of public services will pose particular opportunities and risks for Londoners. The White Paper provides little detailed information about how its proposals will meet the needs of all Londoners, improve services for the most disadvantaged and reduce inequalities.”
What happened with the Work Programme? Contractors asked to invoke sanctions Two types of contract: Tier 1 and 2 Tier 1 • Risks passed on to VCS • TUPE posed a barrier Tier 2 • No referrals • Low confidence that meet needs of most disadvantaged – ‘parking’?
Developing a diversity of providers <2% of public spending goes to third sector organisations Barriers • Short-term contracts • Disproportionate monitoring • Lack of evidence of impact • Lack of capacity Recommend “intelligent commissioning”
Developing a diversity of providers Market intelligence Market structuring Market intervention
Benefits for commissioners • Better knowledge of the range and diversity of providers in their area • Work with VCS to develop effective quality services that offer choice to users – consortia • Work with VCS to address identified gaps in service provision • Better understanding of social and environmental benefits and measures • Local services with local knowledge • Look at people as a whole and are flexible • More specialist services • User involvement • Innovation
A level playing field for the VCS • Learn from the Work Programme: what is left? • Appropriate risk and pre-payments: insurance? • Early warning of, and support on, TUPE • Negotiation of clear signed contracts before delivery – work with other VCS groups • A commissioning or sub-contracting standard, which is effectively monitored and with tough sanctions • Use Social Value Act and Best Value
Will choice help users? Only if • “intelligent commissioning” develops market • a range of providers, including specialists, and ‘over-capacity’ • VCS providers’ role as advocates for users and their independence is valued • Social and environmental impacts and user satisfaction inform provision and are properly measured • Support for independent advocacy, brokerage and information services
Is there currently sufficient funding and will from Government to address all these issues?Is the VCS being ‘set up to fail’?Should the VCS withdraw from this agenda?