May 30, 2018
There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests commissioners of public services would do well to quell their natural inclination to procure services from the large corporates that can churn out tenders at the drop of a hat – the recent crash and burn performance of Carrillion should be reason enough. And while gaining an understanding of the needs of the smaller, local provider might take a little longer at first, in the long run the benefits of supporting the local supplier can be huge. Locality have produced a short 5 step guide for elected members and commissioners.
This practical guide for councillors and commissioners is designed to support better commissioning. Local authorities are under huge pressure from rising demand for services and ever shrinking budgets. Many see big contracts that outsource services to large national providers as the only way out. However, this is creating an environment that wastes money on inefficient contracts, discriminates against local providers, and fails to create the services we need.
There is an alternative approach, one that prioritises a simple principle: to Keep it Local. By making public service delivery ‘local by default’, commissioning can create more responsive services that reduce costs, invest in the local economy and build a stronger community. This guide explains why a Keep it Local approach offers a better way and how to make it a reality. It busts some of the common myths about the Social Value Act and EU rules that conspire to keep local providers out the picture. It provides inspirational case studies of where councils are using Keep it Local approaches to great effect. And it sets out five principles for how councillors and commissioners can work together to create a better commissioning environment – that supports local communities, maximises the value of limited resources and inspires excellence in public service provision.
1. Take a place-based approach, to co-ordinate siloed services and utilise the full range of local assets.
2. Demonstrate social value, maximising the potential of the Social Value Act to ensure that social value is accounted for across commissioning and procurement decisions.
3. Commit to building community capacity, with a proactive and positive commissioning strategy that explicitly aims to support local organisations.
4. Impose a maximum value on contracts, to level the playing field and ensure that contracts aren’t out of reach for smaller organisations from the outset.
5. Involve local people through co-design, where the expertise of the professional combines with the experience of the user to create more effective services.