Local Authority Investment in West Lothian

Commissioning and SROI case study: Forth Sector Development, on behalf of the Scottish Government’s SROI Project, has in partnership with West Lothian Council devised a model of purchasing services from third sector suppliers by outcomes.

Executive Summary

Forth Sector Development, on behalf of the Scottish Government’s SROI Project, has in partnership with West Lothian Council devised a model of purchasing services from third sector suppliers by outcomes.

The model is derived from West Lothian Council strategy and policy, and initially aims to build higher level outcomes for priority populations identified in the Single Outcome Agreement and Life Stages Outcomes Planning Model into the purchasing process from the service design stage.

Further to this, the model will provide an evaluation and monitoring system by which the Council can evidence the effectiveness of spend in achieving these outcomes and the impact the investment has on the wider community. It is anticipated that the introduction of an outcomes based evaluation strategy will enable the council to collate the necessary data to undertake impact measurement on a yearly basis. This will enable the Council to better understand the value of social return generated by any investment in social and community services and in the third sector in particular.

The Purchasing Model includes: a model for the purchasing of services; an overview of a three phase transition from funding to commissioning outcomes; an introduction to the importance of service user and service provider input in service design; and a monitoring and evaluation framework.

To test the model West Lothian Council intends to initiate a pilot with suppliers of Older Peoples Services. At present, nine suppliers are in receipt of £629,191 for provision of services to this population, including day care services to elders suffering from dementia to more arms length support including provision of social activities and a care attendant scheme. At present, neither West Lothian Council, nor their third sector partners are ready to engage in a full tendering process for the provision of services. The model aims to move both the council and service provider closer to a full commissioning process over three phases, with the initial phase intended to be carried out through the funding cycle April 2011 to April 2012.

Phase 1 of the model aims to move service providers from their current Funding Service Agreement to an Outcomes-based Service Funding Agreement, and to introduce an outcomes based evaluation and monitoring system to run through the 2011 funding cycle. It is anticipated that Phase 2 will move both commissioner and service provider forward to work jointly through a Public Social Partnership to co-produce the core service requirements. It is assumed that phase 3 would be a final transition for commissioner and service provider to a full commissioning process around the delivery of services to contract.

The initial pilot will focus on 8 of the services currently providing Day care services in the region (the ninth service receives less than £1,000 from the council and decided not to participate). The pilot will run from April 2011 for six months, and will focus on transitioning these services onto the new funding agreement and working with them to identify core outcomes against which monitoring will be undertaken to generate an evidence base of outcomes data with which the council can begin to assess the social value being created by its investment. It is intended that, where the initial migration of these services to an outcomes based monitoring and evaluation system has been achieved, other service providers will be encouraged to adopt the same approach, contributing to this evidence base and providing a means by which the commissioner can begin to assess the full social impact and value of investment into service provision across the third sector.

The pilot will test the monitoring and reporting tools provided within the model, and provide indication of the challenges facing both the Council and service providers moving towards purchasing outcomes.

Forth Sector Development, on behalf of the Scottish Government’s SROI project contributed to establishing the pilot through the development of the commissioning model and the evaluation strategy and mechanisms. Tools to assist in outcome collection were offered to the pilot participants as was a method of reporting these back to the council.

All participating providers of Older Peoples Services currently funded by West Lothian Council were migrated onto an interim funding agreement. Within this agreement was a requirement to monitor against outcomes identified in the lead up to the pilot.

West Lothian Council will now undertake a six month pilot of the evaluation mechanism and assessment of the reporting mechanism which will inform anticipated development of Phases 2 and 3 of the three year investment strategy.

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