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Relational Commissioning Webinar: harnessing the power of purpose alignment

Event Date: 31.03.2022 |Time: 14.00-15.30 |Categories: Events, Featured |Tags: ,

This free webinar is aimed at commissioners from local public authorities, as well as leaders of social enterprises and other public benefit organisations, who want to explore new and more impactful ways of organising public services.

With case studies from Plymouth and Croydon, the event will explore how local public authorities can work in partnership with social enterprises and the broader social economy, to improve and develop local services through a relational approach to commissioning services.

Through practical examples it will look at the benefits and some of the challenges involved in working this way. It will also examine how the commissioning, procurement and contracting processes can be improved to enhance partnership working.

The Speakers

As Chair, Jonathan will set the scene before introducing the case studies.

A Plymouth perspective

Rachel will share experience of how Plymouth City Council has worked in a relational way with local social enterprise providers, including the establishment of Wellbeing Hubs and the Complex Needs Alliance. The benefits of this approach include using local organisations that know their communities, creating stability for the VCSE sector, developing robust solutions to problems, and avoiding damaging competition between VCSE organisations.

However, there can be risks, e.g., commissioners having ‘favoured’ providers, where does the power lie, does that stifle innovation, pushing legal boundaries. Possible solutions to these risks lie in models such as Alliances or Innovation Partnerships, like Plymouth’s new Children’s Services Innovation Partnership.

Mark will give a provider’s perspective of how they have worked in partnership with Plymouth City Council and the development of the Four Greens Wellbeing Hub.

A Croydon perspective

Bianca will share experience of the One Croydon Alliance, which was set up in 2016 and is a partnership between Health, the Local Authority and the VCSE Sector. It seeks to join up services to offer a more coordinated approach to support that will help look after people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Croydon is one of the areas being supported by the King’s Fund and National Lottery Community Fund under the Healthy Communities Together Programme, to support genuine partnership working to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities. Bianca will give an overview of work under this programme, which has a focus on the development of a locality commissioning model, designed to support better outcomes for residents through a proactive and preventative approach within each of the six localities in the borough.

Jonathan will then hand over to Julian, to examine how the commissioning, procurement and contracting processes can be improved to enhance partnership working.

A legal perspective

Contracts are at the practical core of how commissioners and public services providers engage, but contracting practice is based on conventional, commercial models and had changed little in 30 years. Additionally, contract negotiation and formation has unhelpfully been subsumed into procurement process. For commissioners who are seeking to develop relational partnership arrangements with providers, the way that standard commercial contracts are applied can be a major barrier to innovation and achieving successful outcomes.

Julian will share his thinking on how agreements can be put in place for effectively managing contracting arrangements for people-centred public services and the considerable obstacles to doing so. This will include looking at principal contracts between public authorities and providers, and the implications for subcontracting arrangements. He will highlight the critical importance of purpose, priority, proportionality and pragmatism, and explore what needs to happen to move this agenda forward.

Speakers’ panel and Q&A

As the Leader of a Cooperative Council, Louise will then share her views on working with social economy partners and comment on the examples that have been presented, before a Q&A session with the full panel.

This is the fourth webinar in the series linked to the E3M procurement to partnership toolkit.

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