The government launched qualification for the Dynamic Framework In June 2020. This is the system through which rehabilitation and resettlement services will be commissioned from June 2021, and is the main opportunity for voluntary organisations to deliver probation services. Between September and the end of 2020, organisations will be able to compete to run the services that will be up and running from the beginning of the new system – so called “day one” services. This is called the “call off” stage.
Support for the sector
Since June, Clinks has run a series of events to support organisations to understand what the Dynamic Framework means for them, and to meet potential partners. We’re uploading materials to our website. Visit the probation web page to see:
- A recording of our event, ‘Introduction to the Dynamic Framework’
- A recording of our event, ‘Building Partnerships for the Dynamic Framework’
- Questions and answers for voluntary organisations
- An MoJ webinar on navigating the ‘Jaggaer’ e-sourcing portal through which you register for the Dynamic Framework.
Voluntary organisations working in criminal justice can also send questions to us at email@example.com. Through this mailbox, we will answer your question if we can and collect feedback from organisations to inform our influencing of the probation review programme. However, we may need to refer you to the clarification process on Jaggaer if we can't answer your question. We will answer as many as we can and will try to provide an initial response within 48 hours. Please do consult the questions and answers published on our website, and those published on Jaggaer, before contacting the mailbox.
We are also running ‘Meet the prime provider’ events to enable voluntary organisations to meet both commercial and voluntary sector organisations who are planning to develop a supply chain and bid directly to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) for contracts within the Dynamic Framework. You’ll also be able to hear about the approach being taken by potential lead contractors and put questions to them. We’ll also be providing support with the IT requirements of this process. Keep an eye on Light Lunch and our events page.
Influencing on your behalf
We continue to work closely with the HMPPS probation review team to ensure the development of the future system is informed by the knowledge and expertise of the voluntary sector. We’re raising the sector’s concerns about its ability to engage with and deliver services as part of the new system.
Key concerns include:
A light touch process?
Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service intended the qualification process to be as light touch as possible, in recognition of the challenges organisations are currently facing, and to better enable the small and specialist organisations that make up the majority of those working in criminal justice to participate. However, organisations tell us they find the process complex and onerous – particularly the e-sourcing portal Jaggaer. They feel gaining access to it is cumbersome, and the information provided there is confusing. This makes it extremely challenging and time-consuming for them to understand the opportunities the Dynamic Framework presents.
The information provided and the way it is presented is complex. Therefore organisations are asking clarification questions. However, these aren’t always responded to promptly, and some answers require follow-up. The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) recommended that clear and accurate information was provided upfront to enable organisations to engage in the process but we are very concerned that this has not happened.
Organisations are concerned about the credit report and IT requirements – both of which have costs associated with them which present a further challenge for small voluntary sector organisations. In addition, credit reports designed for commercial organisations do not necessarily provide a true picture of the financial health of voluntary sector organisations. Voluntary sector providers are also concerned about the implications of TUPE, redundancy costs and pension liabilities.
Organisations are spending considerable time and are becoming frustrated trying to navigate all of this. We are very concerned about the implications this has for organisations to be ready for the call off stage. Larger organisations are telling us they find the call off structure daunting and expect resourcing it to be a real challenge. For smaller ones, it is even more of a challenge and we’re concerned that they are resigning themselves to just being small parts of supply chains and not even bothering to qualify. As a result, there is a risk of disengagement and a feeling that the Dynamic Framework does not offer opportunities to be part of meaningful partnerships.
Contracts that enable quality services and achieve outcomes
There is concern about the published ‘values and volumes’ for contracts – values refers to the overall cost of the service and the volume is the number of service users HMPPS is buying the service for. Where organisations have been able to compare the proposed values and volumes with their existing ones, or with the information published by HMPPS in November, there are significant variances.
This could be because HMPPS is procuring a different service in the new probation system to those commissioned through existing supply chains. Even if this is the case, such significant reductions in contract value are concerning and may have an impact on the quality of services and outcomes achieved. In addition, it is unclear how volumes have been arrived at and what the eligibility criteria which they are based on is.
There is also concern that HMPPS intends to ramp up contract values over time meaning that contract values are lower in the first year than subsequent years. This could have a significant impact on existing providers’ sustainability and could risk a loss of staff and in turn knowledge and expertise within the sector.
Meeting the needs of women
The process’s complexity has been particularly felt by specialist organisations supporting women. There’s extra pressure on these organisations because the timeframe for qualification coincides with the bidding process for the Ministry of Justice’s £2.5m grant funding. This has been exacerbated further due to confusion during the qualification process for these organisations. For example, it wasn’t clear whether they needed to provide case studies as evidence of their track record across all need categories, or if they would be required to report on their outcomes across all need categories. This is all causing them significant concern and real anxiety.
Meeting the needs of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds
Organisations tell us it’s not clear how HMPPS intends to meet the needs of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. It is welcome that the specific needs of BAME people are recognised in HMPPS’s plans for the future. However, organisations are confused whether the intention is to commission either BAME-led organisations, or services specifically for BAME people, and how either of these things will be defined.
We are in regular contact with the probation review team to feedback these concerns.
In response to a number of the issues raised, the Ministry of Justice is hosting two webinars to talk through the different routes and opportunities available via the probation Dynamic Framework. The first, on the 20th August, covered bidding models (e.g. subcontracting, partnering and consortia), and the second, on 3rd September, will be on multi service category call-off competitions. We hope to share the recordings from both sessions shortly. Keep an eye on Light Lunch.
We are also planning meetings between the probation review team and the RR3. The first of these – taking place before the end of August – will discuss contract volumes and quality outcomes. We also hope to meet to discuss mobilisation and contract management in the future. Meeting notes will be published on our website.
Through the RR3 and its representatives, we will continue to specifically highlight the issues facing specialist organisations supporting both women and people from BAME backgrounds. We also continue to raise the concerns of these organisations with the probation review team and are exploring more ways to facilitate engagement between them and these organisations.