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Exploring the impact of personalisation on procurement practice

Briefing paper | October 2010

This briefing paper is one in a series developed by IPC for the National Market Development Forum. It is intended to help local authorities and service providers understand changing social care procurement practices in the context of a public service reform agenda that emphasises greater personalisation of services, more collaborative working between agencies, and achievement of demonstrable value for money at a time of growing demand and funding restrictions. It examines the challenges of a changing role in an era where the purchasing decision and budget will be increasingly in the hands of the user.

After establishing the policy context for changing practice, the paper turns to the key decisions in procurement and charts shifts in emphasis, such as:

  • The increasing number of purchasing decisions made by users, carers or appointed third parties
  • Local authorities’ role in risk assessment where the capacity of the service user to make informed choices is in question
  • The need for contracts to reflect user need and measure outcomes
  • Increasing emphasis on flexibility of delivery as a determinant of purchasing decisions

It then analyses some of the specific challenges to be met, including:

  • Balancing quality and affordability, given budgetary constraints
  • Ensuring new procurement arrangements do not fall foul of existing legal requirements around tendering
  • Ensuring that the need for reliable service supply does not lead to an over-reliance on in-house services
  • Engaging the community in service design

The paper concludes with a checklist of key principles, including stakeholder engagement, risk-sharing, innovation, flexibility, and capacity building, that should underpin effective procurement practice.