Areas of work
About Better Leeds Communities
The charity was established in 1983 and delivers a wide range of services across the city, from social prescribing to play activity and children’s services to a variety of different advice services. Better Leeds Communities also play an active role in encouraging volunteering in the communities in which they operate. In 2016, 132 people volunteered with the charity to support their work.
Advice in Leeds
Since 2014, Better Leeds Communities have delivered a citywide advice contract, in conjunction with Citizen Advice Leeds (CAL) and Citizen Advice Chapeltown (CAC) Their specific focus is on the delivery of outreach advice in 14 Children’s Centres across the city. The service, aimed at pregnant women and parents of children aged under five, provides appointments in local neighbourhoods and offers legal advice on benefits, housing and debt issues. Their service works with 760 people per year.
Co-production and community capacity
Leeds City Council invested time and money into co-production workshops ahead of tendering for the citywide advice service. Through these workshops, they utilised the experience of service-users and expertise of locally rooted organisations like Better Leeds Communities to co-design the service.
A belief in the importance of building and protecting community infrastructure has been central to Leeds’ corporate and political identity for a number of years – and this senior level support underpinned a commissioning approach centred on collaboration with the community.
In order to maximise local social value, the commissioning team wrote a series of requirements into the tender. In order to meet the contract’s social value specifications, the successful organisation had to demonstrate they had a physical base – and track record of delivery – in the local area, as well as possessing knowledge of local people and the place.
Direct Award Contract
Ultimately, this collaborative commissioning approach resulted in the commissioning team using a Single Tender Action – also known as a Direct Award Contract, where a commissioner directly awards a contract to a provider, or consortium of providers, by a negotiated procedure without prior publication.
Following a market-sounding exercise, Leeds Council recognised that the consortium were the only option which demonstrated the experience, expertise and capability to deliver the service within the city – and so chose not to run a competitive contracting process.
Taira Kayani, Chief Executive of Better Leeds Communities, said, “The bidding process allowed us to demonstrate our track record of delivering advice services to the specific client group in the settings specified within the service specification. We were able to build on the excellent relationships with our hosts (Children’s Centres) and service users are able to continue to access a trusted service within their local area.”
About Locality’s Keep it Local campaign
We believe in the power of community. That’s why we’re calling on councils to turn the tide on large-scale outsourcing and Keep it Local:
- For more responsive services that transform lives.
- To reduce long-term pressure on the public sector.
- To ensure precious public resources invest in the local economy.
How to Keep it Local
For more alternative Keep it Local commissioning and procurement methods, please refer to our Better Services, Stronger Economy guide for commissioners, published earlier this year.
The Keep it Local Network is for people who want to find new and innovative ways to reshape local services and transform lives.