Birmingham and Black Country

Who was involved?

Birmingham City Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Council, Wolverhampton City Council are all unitary urban authorities in the West Midlands. A need was identified for a service for people with Complex Needs across the four partner local authorities. Following development of the service specification, a Partnership Agreement was developed between the local authorities involved outlining the roles and responsibilities of the partnership in relation to the service being commissioned.

What do partners contribute?

The service was procured using a tender process and each Local Authority allocates funding to the service proportionate to the number of units purchased. The implications of any changes to funding in relation to any of the partners will be dealt with in line with the Partnership Agreement.

What service is being provided?

The service provides housing related support to vulnerable adults with chaotic lifestyles and complex needs. The service is provided at three different levels. A central hub service provides high level support to service users from each of the Local Authority areas. Service users then move on to a lower level of support back in their local authority area. Floating support is then available for those moving on into independent living.

What were the challenges for commissioning partners and how were these addressed?

The Partnership Agreement took a significant amount of time to develop and agree. However, now each Local Authority is signed up to it, future joint commissioning opportunities will be more straightforward.

Due to the nature of the service being commissioned a number of other agencies needed to also be engaged in order for the service to be successful (Probation, Mental Health services, Substance Misuse services). Multi-agency groups were established to ensure any issues relating to the complex nature of the service were addressed in a timely manner.

What were the challenges to the provider and how ere these overcome?

Providing one service to a number of different local authorities identified that there were differences in the culture and ways of working between partners. This was addressed by agreeing terms of reference for governance, operations and referral panels and having regular meetings of key personnel. The provider also had clear negotiations on contract compliance with the joint commissioning group prior to the commencement of the contract.

What benefits or value has joint commissioning delivered to commissioners?
The commissioners are satisfied that the service provides them with good value for money. It also ensures that service users have access to the specialist support they need, that may not have been viable if each local authority were to commission in isolation. The structure of the service means that service users are re-connected to their local area when they move on from Stage 1 of the service (hub service with high level support).

What is the value of joint commissioning to the provider, users and the community?

The pooled resources have enable the provider to achieve value for money, the customer has a seamless service moving them from a chaotic to a stable lifestyle that promotes social inclusion and re-housing into their local community. For that local community it reduces instances of anti-social behaviour and provides ongoing support.

Top tips

  • The Partnership Agreement has been a fundamental element of the success of the service. Each local authority is signed up to their roles and responsibilities and processes are laid out in the agreement in relation to the way in which any changes in financial contributions etc will be dealt with
  • Nominated key personnel to lead at strategic and operations level and regular meetings are identified in advance
  • Involving agencies in all local authorities by having a launch of the service
  • All partners being flexible when problems and issues are identified enabling solutions to be identified.

Contact

Fiona.Gough@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Resources

Birmingham and Black Country Cross Authority Partnership Agreement