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Building constructive market relations

Briefing paper | October 2010

This briefing paper is one in a series developed by IPC for the National Market Development Forum. It discusses the importance of mature and constructive partnership working in the social care market to ensure sufficient capacity and diversity of services, the innovative and flexible approaches to delivery demanded in the era of personalisation, and the financial risk-sharing that entails. It looks especially at the relationships between commissioners and providers, the existing tensions between them, and the likely impact on them of uncertainty in the market at a time of service reform and financial cuts.

The first part of the paper focuses on specific sources of disharmony between commissioners and providers, including:

  • Costly and bureaucratic tendering arrangements
  • Costs of regulation and inconsistencies in the process
  • Lack of transparency of ownership in some private firms
  • Perceived unfairness in determining who undertakes which services
  • Financial viability in an uncertain, changing market

Then, recognising that local authorities will continue to have a pivotal role in the market even as they increasingly move away from direct provision and purchasing, the latter part of the paper sets out a detailed, three-stage model for structured cooperation between authorities and providers.

Under the headings of market intelligence, market facilitation and market intervention, it suggests practical approaches that both providers and commissioners can adopt in order to improve their working relationships and ensure a diverse and stable market in social care that meets the changing needs of users.

For further information please contact Keith Moultrie at IPC


Tel: 01225 484088