It’s been a while since Clinks has blogged on Transforming Rehabilitation (TR), which entered the Invitation to Negotiate stage back in February, and then the evaluation stage in July. If you’re a potential provider, you may have spent the summer thinking about little else, of course- but if you’re not, you could be forgiven for feeling a little out of the loop.
The next big news, which we expect to see very soon, will be the announcement of who the preferred bidders are in each of the 21 contract package areas. But, as we gear up for that, here’s a quick update on what else is new for those with an interest in TR and its impact from more of a distance.
Firstly, the Ministry of Justice has published the Industry Standard Partnering Agreement, which sets out the terms of the arrangement between the new lead providers and their subcontractors. Although this is a complex document, which formed the basis of Clinks’ legal support project, it’s also a useful insight into the future of these relationships, for those with questions about how the voluntary sector will fare, or perhaps an even wider interest in the outsourcing of public services. Clinks has produced a briefing on this which, although technical in places, is not overly lengthy and hopefully serves as a useful overview.
More broadly, some of Clinks’ most recent policy publications also highlight the particular ramifications of TR. Our 18-month research project with women offender services in the South West has culminated in the final report, Who Cares?, which we published at the end of September. This tracks the challenges facing these organisations in the current climate, and points out the determinative role that TR may end up playing for their services users.
As we report in Who Cares?, “Changes under the Transforming Rehabilitation Agenda ... are seen by some interviewees as an opportunity to formally bring together expertise for the benefit of service users and smaller providers, which can currently be difficult due to capacity”. Meanwhile, others told us that “they wanted to maintain their independence and provide a consistent service to users, and considered Transforming Rehabilitation as a potential threat to both” (both page 8).
We’ve also been pleased to have the opportunity to give our views on the impact of TR and other key issues to the Labour Party as part of their recent “Renewing our Bond with the Third Sector” consultation. As we head towards the general election, and at a time of straitened economic circumstances, Clinks is ambitious about the level of engagement we want from politicians in appreciating the challenges our members face, and in setting out their vision for the future.
Alongside the preferred bidders announcement, this autumn will see the publication of the final report from the Young Review, chaired by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, into young Black and Muslim men in the Criminal Justice System. This will include considerations of, and recommendations for, how the new providers can meet the needs of this historically neglected group.
In asking these and other questions about the longer-term future of the service landscape, Clinks’ aim is to ensure that, even when we do know who will be signing the contracts later this year, members, supporters and general sector-watchers know this isn’t the end of the story. As we have said since the earliest days of the reforms, voluntary sector engagement in TR will not primarily be as lead providers, but through localised or specialist interventions within the supply chains. And, since these won’t be finalised for months and even years to come, that means that we won’t know what their true footprint is until much later down the line; or by extension, what that means for some of the most vulnerable and marginalised offenders in the system.
We hope there will be as much interest in seeing how this agenda develops over the longer term as there is in the forthcoming announcement, because the survival of these organisations is every bit as pivotal to the future of our justice system as the 21 names on those contracts.
Over the coming weeks, follow TR news on Twitter using the hashtag #TRbids
More information about Transforming Rehabilitation can be found on our website here