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Post-Carillion campaign teaches councils to avoid ‘scale fail’ local service procurement

New approaches to the commissioning and funding of local services and organisations are to be supported by an innovative new campaign.

The ‘Keep it Local’ Network will bring together commissioners, councillors, community organisations and policy experts to support local authorities to move beyond large-scale, top-down procurement approaches – and instead harness “the power of community” through simpler, more proportionate funding arrangements.

The campaign, launched by Locality in partnership with Lloyds Bank Foundation, comes as local authorities increasingly search for alternatives to big outsourcing contacts in the wake of the collapse of Carillion.

Locality says its research has shown that commissioning local community organisations to deliver services can reduce long-term pressure on the public sector as well as investing in the local economy.

Chief executive of Locality, Tony Armstrong, who has previously written about keeping it local for PSE, explained: “Following the fall of Carillion in January, Capita has posted huge losses and Interserve has seen its share price plummet.

“Local authorities desperately need to find a new approach to commissioning local services.”

He argued that local community organisations know the place and the people, are locally-rooted and trusted, and provide innovative, flexible and cost-effective solutions. “But the predominance of mega contracts has been crowding them out of the local service landscape,” he added.

Armstrong said that the research is clear: local community organisations are able to deliver high-quality public services, bringing “huge benefits” to the local community when they do.

“When times are tough, councils need to ensure that precious public resources create maximum value for the local community, rather than seeping out to support other costs elsewhere,” he concluded. “We’ve had enough of ‘scale fail’. We need to Keep it Local: for services that transform lives.”

Paul Streets OBE, chief executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation, added: “By bringing together charities, councillors, commissioners and community organisations, Keep It Local will explore new ways of strengthening the way services are commissioned, to help keep the expertise and experience of small providers in our communities.

“It’s great to be able to support this work that will lead the way in making sure that local providers and charities get a fair chance in the commissioning process.”

The network will host workshops across the country to learn about innovative new approaches to service delivery from councils and community organisations.

Locality and Lloyds Bank Foundation will be undertaking a major engagement exercise with local authorities and community organisations during the summer, to create a set of principles to underpin the Keep it Local commissioning practice. They will also collect evidence through a formal consultation and undertake new research into the positive role and value that community organisations bring to public service delivery.


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