Commissioning means councils considering the care and support needs and assets of a local area and deciding what services and support need to be arranged, then designing, securing, monitoring and evaluating those services. Changes to how services are delivered and who delivers them now mean that the main role of councils is to make sure that there is a good mixture of social care services for the whole population. This is often called market shaping.
The Care Act says that commissioning and market shaping should be based on five core principles:
- 'Focusing on outcomes and wellbeing;
- 'Promoting quality services, including through workforce development and remuneration and ensuring appropriately resourced care and support;
- 'Supporting sustainability;
- 'Ensuring choice;
- 'Co-production with partners'.
Commissioning for Better Outcomes: A Route Map, jointly published in prototype form by the University of Birmingham, ADASS, the LGA, DH and Think Local Act Personal in 2014 sets out 12 commissioning standards. These standards are grouped under the four headings:
- person-centred and outcome-focussed
- promoting a vibrant, diverse and sustainable market.
 Boyle, D. & Harris, M. The Challenges of Co-production. NEF, THE LAB and NESTA. p.16