Broader lessons on the PSP model
Scale and the extent to which services are ‘new’. The advantages and challenges of the PSP model varied quite considerably depending on the size and the starting point. In deciding whether to use the PSP model for future initiatives, it is therefore worth considering the likely size and starting point of the potential PSPs. If they are likely to be small and developed from existing services, having a PSP model (as opposed to direct commissioning) may provide some advantages but is likely to have less of an impact. If the potential PSPs would be large and new, then the PSP model may convey more advantages in comparison with direct commissioning, but more time will be needed for development and set-up.
Sharing information and networking. The PSP model facilitates the sharing of information among partners. Where there are a number of PSPs working in the same field, having the opportunity to share information across PSPs is also valuable.
Funding criteria can limit co-production. The PSP model can increase the co-production of services by third sector and public sector partners. However, this is potentially limited by the initial funding criteria: the stricter the criteria for what type of service should be provided for whom, and how that service should be delivered, the less scope there is for co-production by partners.
Ensuring the inclusion of the user voice. There does not appear to be anything about the PSP model, in itself, which encourages the inclusion of the user voice in the design or development of services. Services therefore need to give specific thought to how this might be achieved on an ongoing, strategic basis, beyond the work undertaken in the initial stages of service design.
Relationships between third sector partners. Where PSPs involve more than one third sector body, this leads to increased trust and understanding of each other’s expertise. However, there was acknowledgement that the long-term benefits of this might be limited if, and when, they revert to being ‘rivals’ for future funding of the service.
Need for clear accountability and decision making. The lead partner needs to be empowered and prepared to make operational decisions and to take prompt action when appropriate. There may be occasions where difficult or contentious decisions require to be made outwith the PSP board meetings and, as far as possible, partners should agree in advance how these decisions will be handled.
Having a mix of both national and local PSPs in the same field is potentially problematic. The potential for geographical duplication of service provision needs to be carefully worked through. There are also implications for sustainability with both local and national PSPs feeling they are disadvantaged: the former because they fear their voice will be lost at a national funding level, and the latter because they fear that local commissioners will favour the local service.
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