The Prevention Alliance in Stockport

Stockport Council’s Adult Social Care service wanted a completely new approach to services to prevent those with low levels of need from developing crises and requiring statutory services. LH Alliances worked with them to create a commissioning and contracting approach to achieve their aims.

Why alliance contracting was chosen

Stockport Council has experience with alliance contracting through the Stockport Enablement and Recovery Alliance set up in April 2013. They were interested in using the same approach in other services.

Faced with an impending reduction to the budget and with a desire to move to more generic preventative approach led by need rather than ‘specific’ support by group e.g. carers, people with disabilities, older people, the council was aware that a completely new approach was needed to commissioning and provision. Prior to 2015 there were around 60 separate contracts and grants with charities, not-for-profit and independent organisations, some of which were coming to the end of their term.  After undertaking an options appraisal, they decided an alliance contract would best deliver on some of their strategic objectives.  Two of the six new preventative services have been commissioned using alliance contracts.  This case study focuses on the methodology used to design and commission the largest of the two alliance contracts.

The Prevention Alliance

In January 2015 an invitation to tender was issued. Bids were invited from groups of providers who could demonstrate that they had an innovative model for generic prevention services. Bidding groups had to show how they would meet the outcomes set by the council.

Stockport Council – 5 main outcome areas for prevention services 

Selection took place in April 2015 and the preferred bidding alliance announced in May that year. The alliance was then commenced with both providers and commissioner as members. After rapid transition and mobilisation, it went live.

What changed for people?

The Prevention Alliance published its Stronger Together – TPA Impact Report in Oct 2019 There are also some great personal stories here from those who have used the service.

Our approach

LH Alliances was funded through a Social Action Fund grant run by Nesta on behalf of the Cabinet Office. Stockport Council were successful in their application to build social action in their commissioning activity in this alliance development and also more widely across commissioning.

We were delighted to be working with Stockport Council again. Our role was to advise on and facilitate the alliance development including contract and procurement strategy, selection process and creation of the alliance governance and new teams.

Development of the Alliance

Readiness

The first task was to consider how the previous multiple contracts and grants were to be ‘repackaged’. This was considered in a strategy session that covered the dependencies with other programmes and activities. With the new ‘packages’ agreed, the options for moving to these were considered. These included no change, minimal change through other options to ‘big bang’

The option to recommision all in a phased approach was agreed. Once this was done, an appraisal of the different contracting options for the core package (navigation services and those for vulnerable adults, older people and carers) was undertaken. The options included:

  • Move in house
  • Multiple single contracts
  • Framework
  • Single provider
  • Prime provider
  • Consortium
  • Alliance

The alliance approach was considered to be most likely to meet the strategic objectives overall.

The Council project team then worked to finalise the scope and funding envelope. The Council’s procurement and legal advisers helped adapt standard processes and templates to accommodate some of the features important in an alliance, for example the testing of collaboration in selection processes and the draft alliance contract.

Market information sessions and dedicated (independent) market support were arranged to prepare the market for the changes ahead.

Commitment

The selection process included scoring around meeting the outcomes and delivery competence. The face-to-face evaluation included scenarios and presentations to test commitment to collaboration and innovation.

Following announcement of preferred bidder, a dedicated session to launch the shadow Alliance Leadership Team took place. The providers had worked together in preparation of their bid and the commissioner representatives now joined to form the Alliance Leadership Team (ALT).

Formation

The TPA had an intensive period of transitioning from the old services to the new. New people were being recruited into key roles such as Alliance Manager. Collective reporting against the outcomes and shared financial reports had to be set up.

Operation

The new service went live on 1 July 2015. The contract was initially for 2 years with an option for a one year extension. The TPA has in fact been operational for over four years. The membership has changed with Jigsaw Support replacing Threshold from the original set of providers.

Members of The Prevention Alliance:

  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Nacro
  • Stockport Age UK
  • Synergy Stockport  (a local charity focused on independent advice and other support services, working collaboratively with other voluntary organisations)
  • Talk, Listen, Change (previously Relate, Greater Manchester South)
  • Stockport Homes
  • Jigsaw Support

LH Alliances input

LH Alliances is a delivery partner throughout. Our role included:

Advisory

  • Advising on outcomes and key result area development
  • Advising on governance and finance for inclusion in the alliance agreement
  • Advising the council’s project team
  • Advising on best practice in alliance working and governance

Facilitation 

  • Facilitating a strategic session on scope dependencies with other programmes/initiatives
  • Facilitating options appraisal workshops on contract type and procurement route for Stockport Council senior members
  • Facilitating the council’s project team on key decisions they need to make in the readiness phase
  • Designing and facilitating evaluation part of the provider selection process
  • Facilitating the ALT launch workshop

Delivery

  • Drafting and commenting on drafts for invitation to tender documentation
  • Individual and team coaching for alliance way of working
  • ALT observation and co-design of activities to maximise effective team working

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