Over the next 2 months the Ministry of Justice will have assessed the TR tier 1 bids and will be announcing who will take on the Community Rehabilitation Companies in the 21 CPAs. In this article we examine the merits of the fully integrated model that Interserve has developed with 3SC, the processes necessary to engage a vibrant voluntary sector and also the role of public sector partners in the contract package area (CPA) bids. The overall aim is to make sure a future CRC/probation service on the ground maintains tight bonds with all local agencies so offenders’ needs are met at the right time in the right place. An integrated service is safer, more efficient and better value.
Interserve and 3SC have formed a dynamic partnership for the TR CPA bids. Interserve brings infrastructure, investment, accountability and a wide experience of working in justice and social-change fields, and 3SC brings the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to public service procurement opportunities and develops flexible consortia that perform highly. It’s an integrated approach which also extends to the local public sector in a unified model.
In each CPA a bespoke set of VCSE sector partners (averaging around 20-40 organisations) have been invited to make specific service offers based around their known strengths. 3SC has carefully woven together the service offers to make sure all offenders in all areas get a service (an intervention or a combination of services) which really supports their specific needs. Interserve is increasing the VCSE volume of work to up to 30% of all activity in a CPA which makes their model one of the most VCSE-sector-integrated solutions. The reason for this is simple – the VCSE sector partners are very local, offer innovative responses and have great outcome evidence that makes them the critical difference to effectively reduce reoffending. In return Interserve will manage financial risks away from the VCSE sector and 3SC will help incubate and develop new micro-consortia (small groups within the over-arching model that focus into a specialist pathway) and offer a one-stop solution (something offenders say has been missing). The result is a commercial/VCSE sector integrated model. We are now taking this a step further in each CPA by agreeing with the VCSE sector:
- the structure for effective contract review to ensure delivery against clear contracts with cost and volume;
- the mechanism to resolve service delivery issues to ensure services are delivered on time and in cost according to contracts;
- a new way of working in our consortia where the VCSE sector collaborates to achieve each other’s aims and objectives; and
- service level agreements that describe the relative and important role of the public sector (NHS, Local Authority, PCC, NPS, Prison services) locally.
In each CPA a clear arrangement of what can be expected from public sector colleagues is as important to develop as the VCSE sector contracts. Integration is achievable when organisations know their respective roles and when they can and should come together and rely on each other. To this end, at the heart of each CPA will be a multi-sector steering group which benefits from VCSE, commercial and public sector guidance and integrates working between them all. We are planning to form the steering group into a binding Community Rehabilitation Trust (CRT) specific to that CPA. It is a clear way forward with local stake-holding. Interserve and 3SC believe in openness, honesty and transparency. We expect a professional attitude that is helpful and focused on getting the job done. We believe in acting early to resolve issues and we deliver the targets and outcomes our commissioners set with us. Plus we reward problem-solution and hard work which delivers more efficient services. Our integration principles are built on these values and we have been delighted that so many VCSE sector partners have signed into the Interserve bids, and that the local public sector is also playing their part in a fully integrated approach. The CRT and its members will embody these values and aims. We believe this is the best-practice model from hereon and will result in a cross-sector coordinated integration that commissioners and offenders want.
To back up the principles of integration across sectors, it is important to put in place machinery like the steering group/CRT, and also a clear activity schedule that regularly allows for exchange and problem-solving between the sectors. Each month Interserve and 3SC will coordinate the CRC and local TR delivery organisations and guide their operational activity. We will have a schedule of events over each month so we are sure they underwrite integration practice on the ground:
· early in the month all performance data relating to the prior month is submitted (via the ISPA agreement for the VCSE sector, and service level agreements for the public sector) and this is analysed to see if any underperformance is as a result of poor integration of ‘hand-offs’ between organisations;
· by mid-month a performance improvement plan is developed to solve any integration problems – this can take the form of a revised intervention pathway which ties-in collaborating organisations so we get to the best result for the offender;
· by end of the month a full CRT review is set up to ensure actions are carried out and working well, i.e. organisations are demonstrably collaborating;
· in addition we have quarterly and year end learning events with all sectors hearing about integration solutions and best practice (it is planned this intelligence is shared nationally via an independent academic research body and the new Probation Institute for the benefit of other CPAs).
3SC and Interserve have especially developed the contractual relationships with the VCSE sector and local public sector. The supply chain performance, compliance and quality management will be delivered through a supply chain integration service provided by 3SC. This allows for a critical and independent feedback to Interserve which stresses problem solution and integration issues rather than a pure data counting. Our consortia will benefit from a stable cash flow arrangement (no payment by result pass down to the VCSE sector), and the data system will provide real time performance management, including dynamic risk assessments of delivery activity. 3SC hold to a principle that our consortia should be sustainable across the life of the service. We understand the commercial and operational contexts that our providers operate in, and are sensitive to how our decisions and processes may impact on their on-going viability. We have worked with each partner during the due diligence process to assess their delivery capacity, and the commercial basis for their participation, to arrive at a volume of work allocation for each that is realistic and commercially sustainable for both parties. These volumes are reflected as ‘minimum/expected’ volume allocations in the headline contract, and are matched with cash profiles. Volumes and cash profiles will be reviewed regularly as part of the subcontract management process.
At 3SC we know that cross-sector integration or effective supply consortia do not spontaneously happen. So, to make them happen and to capture the benefits on offer we recommend the four steps we have been developing over the last year: 1) plan real contracts and roles for the VCSE sector, 2) plan service level agreements with the local public sector so collaboration is hardwired into the CRC, 3) set up a proper local steering group including all sectors and describe their roles embodied in a structured CRT for local ownership, and 4) review non-collaboration issues regularly to get to your goal of a fully integrated approach. It’s worth it.
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