The Future of Local Goverment: Commissioning

Leeds City Council have established a Commission on the Future of Local Government which will “reassess the role of local government in the 21st century and put forward practical actions that aim to revitalise local democracy and public service”. Further details can be found here:

Public Policy Strategies has submitted a response to the Commission’s call for evidence. This focuses on the way in which local government commissions and provides its services which is a fundamental to the future role of local government.

In this response it is maintained that many local authorities who have adopted a corporate wide commissioning role have done so too narrowly around formal service delivery and, sometimes even here favouring one particular delivery model over others. This provides for a very limited perspective.

Rather the commissioning model should be used to provide a common foundation stone for the many different service traditions which exist within local government (and individual councils) and to form the necessary bridge to the activities of other local statutory agencies. And to be the one place where a variety of different competing and complimentary options across formal service delivery, community action, regeneration and enterprise are considered and taken forward.

In this way commissioning will embrace not only excellent internal service units (which are often fogetton about) but also recognise that the private and third sectors do not justconsist of specialist service providers, but also local employers, enterprise (both social and commercial) and potential local change agents which have a contribution to make alongside formal service delivery.

All too often commissioners are distracted by the make or buy issue, and ignore the fact that successful public sector commissioning and the correct choice of delivery outlet will be based upon the much more important considerations around the balance between need, resources and priorities.  With form following function; indeed, it is within this triangle of issues where local government can build community leadership in providing a democratically anchored framework within which local priorities can be set, reviewed and renewed.

You will find a copy of the submission here:

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