Barriers to level playing field in services 'too big'

Local authorities have tended to select the same contractors when commissioning public services because the obstacles to organisations competing on a level playing field are too great, a report has concluded.

An interim report on a project by the Office for National Statistics on developing a way of measuring success in adult social care contracts says that councils chose the same suppliers because it was too difficult to be fair to different bidders.

An inconsistent approach to assessing quality and a substantial administrative burden hindered the commissioning process, the report says.

"It was felt that these were obstacles to organisations competing on a level playing field, which led to local authorities preferring the same suppliers over time," it says.

The report is the second in a series measuring progress in the ONS in developing an overall method of measuring outcomes in adult social care services, called the Quality Measurement Framework.

The project includes the development of a toolkit to specifically measure adult social care outcomes.

The NCVO is one of the organisations working with the ONS on the project, which is expected to be completed by December next year.

The report is available from the ONS.

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