Commissioning must change to be more asset-based, but how?

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Commissioners play a vital role in helping to shift mind-sets and relationships, and must themselves adapt to be more asset-based in their approach. In their second How-to guide, Clive Miller & Alex Fox offer some practical steps for commissioners to consider.

In The Asset Based Area, published by Think Local Act Personal, Alex Fox provides a concrete vison of how asset based practice can enable people who use services, local communities, organisations and commissioners to pool their expertise, time, creativity and resources. This requires a change in everyone’s expectations and relationships.

Expectations– an Asset Based Area looks first for what individuals, families and communities can, or could do, with the right support, rather than focusing exclusively on, and expecting, needs and problems. It recognises that big improvements in outcomes are not produced by services acting alone, but are co-produced by organisations and the people whose lives they touch working together. This means that everyone involved needs to identify priorities, co-designs services and systems, and works together wherever possible to co-deliver the work that takes place.

Relationships - An asset-based public body does not have ‘customers’ (whose only responsibility is to pay taxes), rather it views everyone, including people with long term support needs, as citizens, with rights and responsibilities. Rather than ‘providers’, asset-based areas have partners, who share responsibility for system design and the best use of resources.

Five steps commissioners can take to be more asset-based

  1. Shift your focus -move your thinking from only considering services as assets to aiming to shape and build people’s, and communities’ assets as well, including the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector.
  2. Recognise contributions of people– rather than seeing organisations as the only producers of outcomes recognise that outcomes are achieved by people, communities and organisations together.
  3. Share the decision-making – rather than organisations consulting people and communities before making decisions, make sure people and communities are equal decision-makers from the start and throughout, with investment in community groups to help this process.
  4. Develop relationships – rather than keeping organisational suppliers at arms-length, commissioners should ensure greater collaboration with organisations and view VCSE bodies as co-commissioners
  5. Commissioning processes – rather than being mostly centralised devolve commissioning to the lowest practical scale, enabling neighbourhood level decision-making.

Richard Field and Clive Miller. (2017) Asset-based commissioning: better outcomes, better value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Available as a free download, in both its full (215 pp) and digested versions (11pp), from (opens new window)

Read Transforming conventional into asset-based practice - How to guide for creating an asset-based area part 1.

This how-to guide is one of a series of 13 that puts flesh on the bones of the vision of Asset-Based Areas and how they can be developed.