Finding Common PurposeLeadership, reduced bureaucracy and sharing risk are among the key ingredients to successful commissioning, according to a new report.

The paper, Finding Common Purpose, developing strategic commissioning relationships to support people with learning disabilities, outlines the challenges - and potential solutions – to productive strategic commissioning.

It is published by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Care Provider Alliance and is based on a recent workshop held by the two organisations.

It provides an insight into issues on either side of the commissioning fence, including:
• Leadership and capacity: providers believe directors of adult services can encourage better market relationships, but commissioners worry about their own lack of commissioning capacity and specialised knowledge
• Procurement: providers complain about bureaucracy and cost to get onto a framework agreement, while commissioners argue framework agreements rationalise the number of providers
• Trust – providers say council budget cuts create inconsistency in commissioning and increase central procurement directorates but councils suggest providers fail to appreciate the financial pressures they face.

But the report emphasises that it is not too late to design and adopt an approach to commissioning that safeguards the best of current approaches and avoids the “short-term, adversarial relationships that can harm valuable services – and the people who depend on them”.

Recommendations to encourage stronger commissioning include:
• To improve procurement to incentivise providers to come up with innovative models and reduce the cost of framework agreements
• To build trust and understanding between commissioners and providers
• Showcase good practice and develop robust market position statements
• On the issue of sharing risk, use effective dialogue to focus on the outcomes sought rather than process.

To download the full report please visit:
www.vodg.org.uk/uploads/pdfs/Finding%20Common%20Purpose-2.pdf