Headlines: February 6th, 2013

A new initiative, which brings together commissioners from across the public sector, will transform how public services are delivered.

The Commissioning Academy will be open to all public sector commissioning organisations, including central government departments, local authorities, health bodies and judicial services. It will help senior commissioners learn from the example of the most successful and innovative commissioning groups. It will give those who commission public services the confidence and know-how to design different ways to deliver services. They will be able to shape and manage new markets and build more effective and more efficient ways of delivering services for local people.

The Commissioning Academy will use case studies of innovative approaches to redesigning services such as those of Wiltshire and East Sussex. Wiltshire Council has worked with parents and carers of disabled children to redesign its Short Breaks support. This has led to easier access for families, cutting out bureaucracy around assessing family needs. Approximately 1,000 families now have access to the Short Breaks service, whereas only 100 families benefitted under the old model.

East Sussex County Council has set up a ‘Commissioning Grants Prospectus’ to simplify the way they commission services from voluntary and community groups and social enterprises, incorporating social value as an important part of the award decision and leading to substantial savings in tendering approaches.

Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Merrick Cockell, said: ”Commissioning isn’t just about saving money or being more efficient. The key to commissioning services is developing a deep understanding of the users in order to design an approach that best meets both their needs and desires. It’s not about doing more with less, it’s about doing better with less.

“The Commissioning Academy provides a great opportunity for leading local authorities to exchange new ideas and share best practice with representatives from government departments, the police and the NHS on how to reinvent services.

“The LGA has worked very closely with the Cabinet Office to develop the curriculum and the pilot programmes for the Commissioning Academy and we hope it will play a key role in helping the public sector develop the skills required to bring about real change in the way services are designed and delivered.”