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The table outlines what good practice should look like in some of the key areas relating to understanding needs and making a decision to decommission.

It identifies the risks of not following good practice and looks at how these risks might be mitigated and what actions commissioners can take when the timeframe is very tight and good practice is difficult to achieve.


Good practice Risks of not following good practice Mitigating these risks
Clear, up-to-date understanding of the scale, scope and role of third sector organisations (TSOs) that provide services in your area (and emerging/future providers)
  • Failure to understand impact of decommissioning on users and provider market
  • Lack of understanding of the TSO provider market leads to less competition for services, reducing the quality of bids for services, and reduced value for money
  • Lack of understanding of local third sector organisations means that commissioner fails to understand the potential knock on effects of decommissioning services on other TSO providers, e.g. who may have to pick up unmet need
  • Failure to understand the TSO provider market, leads to failure to properly incentivise and build a healthy local provider market
  • Regular market/sector assessments; support for local infrastructure to maintain sector intelligence
  • Access existing (historical) information/data sets on the local VCS
Recognition of the knowledge, expertise and experience that TSOs bring to service design and delivery
  • Sub-optimal outcomes for users caused by a too narrow focus on outputs
  • Incomplete needs assessment of wider community needs, particularly hard to reach groups
  • Implement ‘joined up’ commissioning processes; assessment criteria that recognise ‘full value’; deep understanding of TSOs work (e.g. via site visits, secondments, exchanges etc.) in collaboration with VCS local infrastructure organisations
  • Impact assessment of decommissioning decision on users and other commissioned services
A local Compact in place that is a shared, living document
  • Lack of confidence in commissioners that they are serious about engaging with TSOs
  • Work with local infrastructure body to build trust and confidence
Ongoing engagement and knowledge/information sharing with providers
  • Lack of trust and confidence
  • Negative media coverage
  • Poor understanding of user needs, resulting in unmet need and subsequent higher levels of demand
  • Increased transaction costs for commissioners and providers (e.g. failure demand; unnecessary staff turnover)
  • Regular dialogue, supported by formal and informal communication processes
  • Proportionate, jointly-developed monitoring and evaluation systems that promote shared learning
Transparent, timely (early) communication of decision making processes and their outcomes
  • Increased transaction costs for commissioners and providers (e.g. commissioners face unexpected obstacles that are time-consuming to solve; providers are unable to plan successfully and effectively for change)
  • Costs associated with uncertainty: inability to plan; rushed and poorly made decisions; greater exposure to legal claims and increased risk of compensation payments  e.g. to staff; inability to fulfil exit strategies
  • Clear timetables, adherence to these
  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities in decommissioning processes
  • Not going into denial – its never too late to communicate a difficult decision
Support providers through the change management process
  • Potential legal challenge (e.g. TUPE)
  • Service interruption/deterioration for users during any handover
  • Potential loss of providers
  • Facilitate/signpost access to support/advice
  • Incorporate decommissioning into the commissioning cycle and explore exit strategies
  • Understand and plan for decommissioning costs with providers; clarity re responsibility
  • Where appropriate, plan for transitional funding arrangements
  • Understand costs, clarify responsibility