Social care commissioning system is ‘out of whack’, new publication finds

Eight sector leaders provide perspectives on the viability of ethical commissioning and procurement, through interviews with journalist Pennie Taylor

A new publication from the Coalition of Care & Support Providers (CCPS) explores the viability of an ethical approach to planning and purchasing social care, with eight sector leaders providing their perspectives on the current landscape through interviews with journalist Pennie Taylor.

The publication, “It’s out of whack!”,  highlights how commissioning and procurement has a significant impact on the delivery of support services, sustainability of providers, the workforce and on people receiving support.

Download the publication (PDF)

Interviewees consider how meaningful partnership, community-level co-production and innovative thinking could address unprecedented service challenges.

As reflected in the publication title, which draws on a comment from C-Change CEO Sam Smith, the consensus view is that the commissioning system as it stands is unbalanced.

CEOs, directors and managers interviewed make clear the risks not implementing reform poses to providers, and the major steps still required to realise the “collaborative, rights-based and participative approach” that was outlined in Derek Feeley’s Independent Review of Adult Scotland Care.

Catherine Garrod, CCPS Programme Manager – Commissioning and Procurement, said: “The expert voices in these interviews demonstrate how Third Sector care and support providers already deliver high quality personalised care and support and work to improve the outcomes of the people they support, in spite of the system.

“These are voices that need to be heard and included in finding the solutions to make the shift we all want – and need – to see for people who require support.

Pennie Taylor said: “The concept of ethical commissioning and procurement has been embedded in the proposals for a National Care Service for Scotland, but a new way of working cannot wait for that. Instead, the people I spoke to for “It’s out of whack!” all want to see action taken to galvanise change, using existing legislation to kickstart widespread reform without delay

“These features spotlight great examples of doing things differently, and describe first-hand experience of current practice that is far from ethical. They eloquently demonstrate the passion, commitment and creativity that keeps the Third Sector going, whatever the odds.”

Interviewees in the publication are Ben Bradbury, Business Development Manager, Capability Scotland; Ian Bruce, CEO, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector; Drew Collier, Director of Development, includem; Dr Ron Culley, Chief Officer, Quarriers; Louise Moth, Contracts & Commissioning Manager, Scottish Autism; Julie Murray, Chief Officer, HSPC; Sam Smith, CEO of C-Change; and Andrew Thomson, Deputy Chief Executive, Carr Gomm.

The publication was commissioned by CCPS’s Commissioning and Procurement Programme, which is funded by the Scottish Government.

Find out more about the Commissioning and Procurement Programme

Family support conference: learning points, links and resources

A summary of our recent event, Whole Family Support: The Power of Prevention – Keeping the Promise for Children and Families Across Scotland   

On 15 May 2023, CCPS, alongside partners The Promise Scotland and Children in Scotland’s Supporting the Third Sector Project, ran a conference exploring how the third sector is innovating, making an impact and driving better outcomes for children and families in Scotland. 

Chaired by Pennie Taylor and supported by CCPS Children’s Committee organisations Children 1st, Action for Children Scotland, Aberlour and Barnardo’s Scotland, the joint event examined: 

  • How the third sector is leading transformational change in partnership
  • What that change looks like and how the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund can support it, and
  • How we can learn from this to achieve our shared goal of accessible whole family support across Scotland for families when they need it. 

On this page you’ll find a series of links to resources covering politics and practice explored at the event, alongside illustrations by Edinburgh College of Art students Rachel Collins, Ola Jackiewicz and Ruby Tait, who attended on the day to provide graphic recording.

Illustration: Rachel Collins 

Workshops: key learning points

Alongside our partner, Children in Scotland’s Supporting the Third Sector Project, our Children’s Committee member organisations Aberlour, Action for Children Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland and Children 1st have captured highlights, questions and key learning from the workshops they ran at the conference.

Read a summary of the Supporting the Third Sector Project’s workshop (PDF)

Read a summary of Aberlour’s workshop (PDF) 

Read a summary of Action for Children Scotland’s workshop (PDF) 

Read a summary of Barnardo’s Scotland’s workshop (PDF) 

Read a summary of Children 1st’s workshop (PDF) 

Illustration: Ola Jackiewicz 

Family support case studies

We’ve published a series of case studies marking the impact and value of family support, provided by Aberlour, Action for Children Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland and Children 1st.

Read the case studies

Commissioning & Procurement policy and resources 

CCPS runs a Commissioning and Procurement programme focused on national and local policy and practice change, an area that’s highly relevant to the family support agenda and which was discussed as part of the conference. We recently produced a Commissioning for Outcomes Guide, which explains what outcomes are, why they matter and what outcome-based commissioning means in principle and practice.

Commissioning and Procurement overview

Commissioning for Outcomes Guide (PDF download)

Event overview 

More information on our family support event held on 15 May 2023 


Illustration: Ruby Tait