A guide to getting started with ‘asset-based commissioning’

16 May 2022 · Categories: Innovators Learn, Opinions and responses, Reports and articles

Last year, I explored how organisations can seek to influence commissioners with Alex Fox (previously of Shared Lives Plus and now Mayday Trust), so I was really pleased to see the recent publication of the Social Care Innovation Network’s ‘Commissioning for a better future: A starter for ten’ report which adds to that conversation.

The new report brings together learning from people with lived experience, families, commissioners, innovative support providers, SCIE, TLAP, Social Care Future and Shared Lives Plus and is a useful guide to help commissioners move towards ‘asset-based commissioning’.

What is ‘asset-based commissioning’?

Essentially, ‘asset-based commissioning’ is about…

Enabling people and communities, together with organisations, to become equal cocommissioners and co-producers, and also via self-help, make best complementary use of all assets to improve whole life and community outcomes.

Richard Field and Clive Miller

The report acknowledges that ‘asset-based commissioning’ can take many forms and explores this through a series of models, theories and practical steps about how to get there which are backed up by real-life examples – many outlined in the TLAP rainbow of innovations.

One model from Andy Brogan talked particularly about ‘asset-based commissioning’ being a…

…‘shift from a model that is focused on delivery (and so deals in accountability, specifications, targets, competition, performance management, etc.) to one that is focused on impact (and so deals in responsibility, discovery, measures, collaboration, sense-making, etc.)’…

Andy Brogan

…this really resonates with our values and our work…We take the perspective of people who draw on support to live their lives. They tell us they want to have choice and control over their support, so they are able to live in a way that suits them and do the things that matter to them. We believe that a much wider range of options is needed to enable this. Just procuring more of the same isn’t what people want.

Different strokes for different folks

Diagram showing projects, information and time in the centre linking out to: area Councils, community champions, Council and statutory services, business community, area teams, ward alliances, Council budgets, other donors e.g. Big Local and Neighbourhood Networks. Credit: Heading Upstream (Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform 2017)I love the image that Barnsley Council has created to show how they have changed their governance to enable the development of ‘asset-based areas’. It’s really powerful and highlights how ‘asset-based commissioning’ can enable lots of different solutions to flourish in different places if we get the conditions right, ensuring people can find solutions locally that work for them – be that Community Circles, Gig Buddies, GoodGym, Time Credits, community micro-enterprises etc.

Tackling commissioning is critical to create the social care future we all want. This report makes a cracking start, that will of course evolve over time as more people add to the conversation and collaborate on its development. Changing the way you work is hard. This is a useful guide to help us all learn how to do that through really good examples.

…We’re also really pleased to see Social Care Future has successfully gained grant funding from the Hallmark Foundation to develop a ‘long-range campaign to bring about a marked, measurable improvement in the wellbeing of people with cause to draw on support to live their lives’ – this will hopefully build the momentum for change – we look forward to seeing more!

By Pip Cannons – CEO at Community Catalysts

You might be interested in our other recent blogs:

Back to news