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A relationship-based commissioning culture is evident throughout our case studies.

There’s a common pattern whenever a public authority or a social enterprise proposes a partnership-based approach. Once commissioners are in support of such an approach, and are in discussion with progressive, purpose-aligned partners, momentum grinds to a sudden halt when someone shouts “stop – there’s a procurement issue.”

But as these case studies demonstrate, procurement rules have long offered the opportunity to embrace innovation, build partnerships and prioritise social purpose and social value.

It is not necessary to prioritise procedure and process above purpose. By embracing the enabling, permissive and flexible nature of public contracts regulations, these exciting, innovative and impactful partnerships have brought the “Art of the Possible” to life.

Leicestershire’s Children’s Innovation Partnership is an example of public services developed and delivered in consultation with local providers and service users.

The Council used a creative approach to procurement and contracting to develop a Children’s Innovation Partnership, the first of its kind in the UK. The partnership has already generated millions of pounds of new income for projects that improve outcomes for children. FULL CASE STUDY.

Oldham Council’s Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership was co-designed and co-produced with residents, by direct reference to personal needs. Co-production meant services were reorganised so needs are at the heart of provision.

Shifting the balance of power to residents and community partners to develop simplified commissioning and direct services to needs was critical to the Partnership’s success. FULL CASE STUDY.

The Plymouth Alliance addressed a perception that commissioning had been seen as a top-down, opaque and disempowering process, rather than an inclusive partnership between commissioners, services and people using services, as well as their families and communities.

The new Alliance partnership approach and ten-year contract has opened the way for the prospect of a whole system of service, designed around the needs of people, rather than a fragmented market built around the needs of commissioners and services. FULL CASE STUDY.

Kibble supports at risk children and young people across the UK. In February 2020 it became a major shareholder in St Mirren Football club.

This new partnership is helping to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in Scotland. CASE STUDY.

HCT Group provides independent travel training to young people in Norfolk and Lambeth with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND). These programmes have been funded through a social impact bond (SIB).

The commissioning process involved co-design and collaboration, and both commissioning bodies made “pragmatic use of the procedures available to them”, to partner with HCT Group. CASE STUDY.

Many people in Gainsborough’s south west ward have been living in poor quality housing.

But a 10-year partnership between West Lindsey District Council and the ‘people first’ organisation P3, a registered charity, social enterprise and registered housing provider, is increasing the provision of high-quality, sustainable housing that is affordable for Gainsborough’s communities in the greatest need. CASE STUDY.

London and South East Education Group has embedded social value generation into organisational practices. The first College to think this way, it shows how local anchor organisations can enhance the economic and social wellbeing of their areas, catalysing long-term sustainable changes that local people want.

Its work is creating new collaborations and partnerships – for example, by working with local NHS providers it is directly solving skills gaps. CASE STUDY.

One Croydon Alliance is a partnership between the local NHS, Croydon Council and the VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprise) sector.

It seeks to offer a more coordinated approach to support, to help look after people’s physical and mental health and well-being. A locality commissioning model is shifting power and resource to voluntary, community and social enterprise partners. CASE STUDY.

Kirklees Independent Living Team takes a system-based approach consistent with the NHS Business Plan and its focus on ‘significantly increasing the number of people we can diagnose, treat and care for in a timely way,’ and ‘to make the most of resources available across health and social care, and ensure reducing inequalities in access is embedded in our approach.’ CASE STUDY.

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Tools, Resources and Model Documents

Example documentation, contracts, processes and agreements you can access – or use as a checklist as you progress your partnerships. These practical models and outlines include a set of social value imperatives.

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