Report breaks down barriers to better commissioing of learning disability services

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Wednesday 27th November 2013
Embargo: Immediate

Leadership, Reduced Bureaucracy and sharing risk are among the key ingredients to successful commissioning, according to a report* published today.

The challenges - and potential solutions to productive strategic commissioning are explored in a publication issued jointly by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Care Provider Alliance (CPA).

The paper, Finding Common Purpose, developing strategic commissioning relationships to support people with learning disabilities, is based on a recent workshop held by the two organisations. It is an important insight into issues either side of the commissioning fence; workshop participants included not only social care provider chief executives, but also senior local authority commissioners.

As explained in todays report, it is not too late to design and adopt an approach to commissioning which safeguards the best of current approaches and avoids the short-term, adversarial relationships that can harm valuable services and the people who depend on them. The ADASS and CPA paper suggests the ways forward.

Problems described by providers and commissioners in the report include:

  • leadership and capacity - providers believe directors of adult services can encourage better market relationships, but commissioners worry about their own lack of commissioning capacity and specialised knowledge
  • procurement - providers complain about bureaucracy and cost to get onto a framework agreement - while commissioners argue framework agreements rationalise the number of providers
  • trust providers say council budget cuts create inconsistency in commissioning and increase central procurement directorates but councils suggest providers fail to appreciate both the financial pressures they face the role of elected councillors 

Todays report includes recommendations to encourage stronger commissioning:

  • to improve procurement to incentivise providers to come up with innovative models and reduce the cost of framework agreements
  • to build trust and understanding between commissioners and providers
  • showcase good practice and develop robust market position statements
  • on the issue of sharing risk, use effective dialogue to focus on the outcomes sought rather than process

The report also suggests a number of specific recommendations for stakeholders.


For further information contact:
John Adams OBE, General Secretary, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, 07917 670 509
Andrea Pope-Smith, Joint chair, ADASS Learning Disability Network, 0121 569 5456
Drew Clode. ADASS Media/Policy Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755
VODG: Tel: 07917 670 509

Notes to editors:

David Walden CBE, public policy consultant, independently facilitated the workshop on which todays paper is based.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors and senior managers of adult social services departments in English local authorities. Directors (DASSs) have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health needs.

The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together all the main representative bodies for independent adult social care providers. Members include: Association for Real Change, Associated Retirement Community Operators, Ceretas, English Community Care Association, Mental Health Providers Forum, National Care Association, National Care Forum, Registered Nursing Home Association, Shared Lives Plus, United Kingdom Homecare Association, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group.

* Read the full report at

Read John Adams blog at