Commissioners should try to give as much formal notice of decisions to decommission as possible. As well as needing to adhere to contract and public law, it is advisable to do so in order to minimise any risks to value for money and to safeguard the interests of users, statutory agencies and providers. Giving little or inadequate notice to providers means they are unable to plan as successfully, which can lead to significant obstacles. Formal complaints or legal challenges may be raised which gave rise to significant wastage of time, resources and funds, often with a deferral of the process or a retraction of the decommissioning intentions.
Some commissioners highlighted the importance of the Compact principles and the need to give the notice period set out in their local Compact agreements. At a minimum this should be three months notice. However most respondents advocated longer if possible and certainly longer where there is a complex case (for example: a large Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) transfer; where there are residential services; or other property and asset implications). There are many risks of not giving enough notice including worsening relationships, jeopardising the sustainability of organisations and losing skilled staff.
Another key consideration is the need to align decommissioning decisions and processes better with the financial and contractual cycles. Commissioners should ensure that decisions are made early on, and are not driven just by the need to decommission by the end of the financial year. Good forward and budget planning should mean that decisions can be made earlier.