Hi All,

My time as a Carnegie Associate is now coming to an end, and I thought it might be helpful to sum up our work and discussions to date on the issue of Service Transfer. 

As our group has grown, and as we’ve developed resources/content, we’ve looked at a lot of issues, including:

  • The impact of service transfer on staff terms and conditions (see this discussion and interview)
  • New ‘intelligent’ approaches to commissioning (see for example this video and comments)
  • The development of third sector consortia (see this post and comments)
  • Issues of trust between public officials and third sector bodies (see Joanna’s comment wall).
  • Creating ‘marketplaces’ where third sector organisations and public bodies can define transfer opportunities (for example this post)
  • Measuring social impacts before and after transfer – see for example this video and this thread)

I am left with some further questions, including:

  • Is the language of ‘Service Transfer’ too broad to be helpful for grassroots practitioners?
  • Could a further development of this topic look at particular models of service transfer and specific challenges – for example, mutuals or co-productive models?
  • Should we examine in more detail commissioning processes and methods for measuring social impact?

As I have done this work, it has become clear that there is a lot of potential to link up with other networks and practitioners.  This could be important in any further development of the topic by the CoP.

Thanks for your input over the last few months.  Your feedback is, as always, very welcome

Tom Archer

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Tom for this helpful summary and questions.

Through our work together I have become more aware of just how large as well as involved this territory or 'service transfer' is - and I agree with your analysis that the language we have used to open up this area may still be too broad to provide effective and useful focus for existing and potential participants in this CoP conversation.

However, what you have done is to provide very useful background to the complexities of this topic, and some of the choices that local people and social enterprises can make as they decide whether or not to go down the route of 'transferring services'.

I am struck that Jane Foot's recent report "What Makes us Healthy?" offers a very complementary and practical resource to this wide discussion here. Again, taking a very 'assets' approach to community health and wellbeing, she brings lots of examples together around social impact, commissioning etc.. 

You mention Tom the potential to connect with other networks and practitioners. You also suggest that focusing on particular approaches like mutualism could be helpful.

If members of the CoP agree then the Steering Group would be happy to consider supporting some next steps.

For example, taking Tom's suggestion of focussing on mutual models - are there some rural service initiatives that are attempting to show 'mutualism' in action? Would it be worth bringing them together in an event? What would the purpose of such an event or exchange be? Are there different 'mutual' traditions in different jurisdictions that could benefit from spending time together? Do different jurisdictions enable the emergence of mutual models better than others?

Personally, I think that measurement of social value is a really important issue and a hard nut to crack. I really liked the video you made that showed how a transport social enterprise is really on top of this issue - and I think many local organisations could learn from this focus. I know this is an area that the New Economics Foundation as well as others champion. At a high level, Carnegie launched a report last year about 'Measuring What Matters', building on early conversations in this community of practice. In our ongoing work in Argyll and Bute, conversations often come back to 'but how do we help council members and officers make well informed procurement decisions? how do we get trusted information about social return into their hands?'.

Perhaps this might also offer up a focus for a practitioner-led event - bringing together some examples of approaches to measuring value of transferred or transferring services that have achieved 'traction' - that is, have actually influenced the spending decisions of councils and others to shift the balance towards community and social enterprise in rural areas? 

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