Agenda and minutes

Select Committee - Commissioning
Thursday, 6th February, 2014 10.00 am

Venue: Swale 2, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Denise Fitch  01622 694269

No. Item


10.00am - Pete Turner, CEO Carers First (provide carers support in West Kent) Lorraine Williamson, CEO, Crossroads Care East Kent (provide respite services for carers in East Kent) pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Additional documents:


(1)   The Chairman welcomed Peter Turner and Lorraine Williamson to the meeting and invited them to outline to the Committee their roles in supporting KCC, and to answer questions from Members of the Committee.


(2)   Lorraine introduced herself and explained that the role of Crossroads EK was to provide respite to family members who were carers. For more than twenty years the service had received grant funded from KCC and Health Authority - which have been consistently rolled over. Recognised the grant funding process has its own set of problems. But commissioning model has a new set of challenges and new ways of working which were not particularly useful to all voluntary agencies, particularly smaller organisations.


(3)  Protracted consultation periods and contract roll over for the last four years have been both harrowing and stressful. Commissioning has brought change but rapid change.


(4)   Commissioning modelling brought some concerns:

·        Tendering process could have very restricted timeframes when introducing a new process and often held over Christmas break.

·        Restricted timeframes affect current working arrangements and meant unable to properly consult with service users before tendering.

·        Tendering process lacked opportunities to demonstrate the value and strengths of services

·        Smaller charities are being encouraged to merge with larger organisations and parts of their quality bespoke work disappearing. 

·        Drive for voluntary agencies to ‘partner up’ - merger or consortia -ignored legalities (i.e. differing areas of benefit) or timeframes to enable merger and tender. Expectation is to complete and compete in a four week time frame. 

·        No recognition that Trustees were volunteers often without the business acumen required to operate as Directors; for example Crossroads have many ex-carers on their board who are rightly concerned of the changes in legality and their responsibilities. As a result many trustees are reluctant to merge with other organisations so organisations are at risk of folding.

·        Call off contract unit cost pitted voluntary sector against the commercial / private sector who could subsidise their tenders / bids to ensure entry into these new business areas.

·        Very complicated for organisations new to contractual and bidding processes.  There is a general lack of knowledge in relation to tender procedures/specifications and very little help from authorities except regarding technical questions.

·        Market events were a waste of time, KCC need to share specification  but primarily seen as an opportunity to gauge your competitors

·        Bidding processes limit organisations ability to demonstrate VFM / added value especially when only have 500 characters on the electronic forms. Cannot show the difference can make – accessing additional income streams, etc.

·        Frameworks not working - i.e. have been on the Children’s Services Framework for over a year with no business opportunities apparent.


(5)    Peter introduced himself – he has been chief executive for last 2.5 years and is a former commissioner of children’s services in Westminster.  He agreed with much of what Lorraine had said that the contractual process can be onerous, time intensive and risky but also wanted to add a different slant.


(6)  Recognised that both  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


11.00am - Diane Aslett, Development Officer, Age UKs in Kent Consortium plus two Consortium Managers: Nigel Vian, CEO, Age UK North West Kent & Gillian Shepherd Coates, CEO, Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge pdf icon PDF 19 KB

Additional documents:


(1)      The Chairman of the Select Committee welcomed Diane Aslett, Development Officer, Age UKs in Kent Consortium, accompanied by two Consortium Managers; Nigel Vian, CEO, Age UK North West Kent and Gillian Shepherd Coates, CEO, Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge to the meeting.


(2)      They had received questions and themes that the Select Committee were investigating in preparation for the meeting.  A copy of their response was included in the papers and considered by the Select Committee.


(3)      Age UKs in Kent Consortium encouraged by the positive engagement with KCC on building the joint commissioning offer.  Each of the Age UKs in Kent are independent charities with affiliation to Age UK, the national charity, through a Brand Partner Agreement only.


(4)      However, there are a number of issues for consideration. Firstly, poor communication.  Age UK NWK won a contract potentially worth £415,000 in March 2012 and to date no progress had been made since the original bid. Verbally they had received word that the funding was suddenly no longer available although they understood that attempts were being made to source alternative funding. After twelve months they were still waiting for official written communication on what had happened to the contract and whether they are going to have to bid again.  Tendering was an expensive process for organisations.  The market needed confidence in the bid process. This contract required multiple stakeholders’ cooperation and dependencies. It later transpired that still no arrangements had been made with the Health Service in the NWK area/CCG to organise the referral route. Without the full commitment of the health service to organise processes, resources and procedures for service referrals then even if the money was available the Health Service would not be in a place to proceed now.  Age UK NWK and the bid related subcontractors that were committed to providing the service locally were left hanging.  There was no certainty of whether the funding would ever become available for the contract. 


(5)      There was now more performance management requirements within tenders, contracts and grants to be cost effective.  Contracts in principle were now outcome focused whereas in the past they were based on quantitative data for which staff spent a lot of time monitoring facts and figures for reports rather than ensuring that outcomes were delivered. Future tenders needed more emphasis on measuring outcomes not just outputs.


(6)      AGE UKs in Kent Consortium were proud of the Advocacy contract with KCC and this had proved to be a great success with high levels of collaborative working across agencies to meet the grant agreement.


(7)      Since the new KCC Commissioning Team had beenin place there had been a dramatic change and Age UKs in Kent Consortium wanted to commend them for their high levels of engagement and honesty.  Monthly meetings were held, they worked on the joint older peoples  ‘offer’ specification together using the Age UKs in Kent Consortium networks to seek consistency throughout the county.


(8)      However, as yet they did not have a definitive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


12.00am - Emma Hanson, Head of Strategic Commissioning - Community Services pdf icon PDF 31 KB


(1)      The Chairman of the Select Committee welcomed the Head of Strategic Commissioning, Adult Community Support Services, Emma Hanson, to the meeting and Members in attendance introduced themselves.


(2)      Emma had received questions and themes that the Select Committee was investigating in preparation for the meeting.  A copy of her response was included in the papers and considered by the Select Committee.


(3)      Emma explained that the portfolio for Adult Community Support Services commissioned services were for the following adult client groups; older people, people with physical disabilities, people with learning disability, people with mental health needs, people with autism and people with sensory disabilities. The services were designed to support and enable people to live as independent as possible lives in their own homes in the community.  This was done through Homecare contracts with the majority of the provision provided by the private and voluntary sector. There were now well established integrated commissioning groups (CCGs) whose focus was looking for opportunities to jointly commission support services.


(4)      The three distinct teams; Children’s commissioning, Adult Community Support Services and Adult Accommodation Solutions all worked connectively.


Question: Costs of Entry – Voluntary Agencies have consistently raised concerns about the high costs involved in tendering, how can we mitigate these costs?


(5)      Emma acknowledged that some organisations had to employ bid writers or write themselves with little expertise.  She had worked on creating a draft service specification headed “Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector Market Development Service” and recently submitted the document to the Departmental Management Team (DMT) and officers from the CCGs for discussion.   The specification aimed to support the providers and develop their skills.  Emma tabled the draft document and asked Members to forward their views on the draft document to her. Hopefully it will remove barriers. Emma advised that this document, when approved, [This document was urgently required in Adult Community Support Service] could be slightly amended to fit other services in the future.  She had already spoken with Henry Swan and Meradin Peachey and David Whittle about moving this forward.


(6)      The Chairman of the Select Committee hoped that the specification of the draft document would be informed by the Select Committee’s recommendations.


Question: is there a lack of understanding of autism or awareness of need?


(7)      Emma agreed there was a lack of understanding and awareness regarding autism.  She considered that the Commissioning Strategy was there to encourage an understanding of the conditions.  The answer needed to be sought on whether an Autism Service was needed or whether other services needed have more awareness of Autism conditions.  Emma likened this to the Select Committee for Dementia that recommended work being carried out with the acute trust and General Practitioners to make them more aware of the condition. 


Question: Are grants useful for the commissioning of services?


(8)      Emma described the ‘Carers Contract’ work in 2013 moving from 37 grants to 4 contracts with three years terms via performance framework.. It had been a bumpy ride but all successful  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.