Power to the people: NLGN report on community commissioning
- 9 July 2019
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: Resources
Hot on the heels of their Community Paradigm publication from February this year, the New Local Government Network has just released new report another report, Community Commissioning: Shaping public services through people power, which “picks up on one of the recommendations from the original report to hand the power to design services over to communities and adds much greater detail to the idea.”
Senior Policy Researcher Trinley Walker explains in more detail in this blog post:
Community commissioning would result in numerous benefits for both people and places. Evidence shows that individual wellbeing, community cohesion as well as policy effectiveness all improve on the basis of greater participation among citizens. Indeed, all of these positive impacts were borne out through the interviews conducted with Big Local areas as part of the research. For the authors, the principle behind Big Local – handing significant resource over to a community to spend as they see fit – was a significant inspiration for the report.
The report is oriented around four questions that public sector bodies should ask as they attempt to move in this direction:
- What is the nature of the service? The implications of community commissioning will differ according to whether it is a discretionary or ‘non-core’ service or alternatively a statutory or core service being delivered. Over time, however, should community commissioning take hold, the statutory/non-statutory distinction will fade in significance as all of the contextual factors that impact on service delivery in a place are addressed holistically.
- What is the nature of the commissioning network? Whether community commissioning is delivered through a group of residents in a defined geographical area or through those who naturally coalesce around a need or interest will have a big impact on the approach.
- What is the method of power transfer? Perhaps the most crucial question. The various formal and informal mechanisms for the transfer of power need to be identified and developed with the community concerned.
- What will be the depth of participation? The extent to which commissioning will be community led or institution led will differ between places and services but over time any initiative should move to being as community led as possible.
And it wouldn’t be a proper report without some recommendations for government, which include:
- reform of the overarching regulatory framework for commissioning and procurement;
- the formal establishment of ‘community constitutions
- new funding to help develop community commissioning at the local level.
All of which sounds eminently sensible, and you can check out the details in the report itself, which is available to download in full. Whether anyone in a position to act on its recommendations will take the blindest bit of notice is another question entirely, of course…