Commissioning Forum – The view from the North

14 Delegates attended the second Commissioning Forum held at the South Fens Business Centre in Chatteris.

The Forums have been established by Support Cambridgeshire to ensure the right level of dialogue and problem solving exists between the Commissioners of local services, and those organisations that provide projects and activities. The first Commissioning Forum was held in the South of Cambridgeshire in October 2018.

This latest session in the North of Cambridgeshire was facilitated by Julie Farrow and Russell Rolph from lead Support Cambridgeshire partner Hunts Forum, with Fiona Davies representing the Commissioners. A mix of organisations attended, some from Peterborough and some from Cambridgeshire, and whilst their experiences of commissioning were slightly different a common mix of concerns were raised about how commissioning is currently being conducted. Amongst these were:

  • How Commissioning was interpreted and enacted across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and how different rules appeared to apply depending upon location or Commissioner.
  • What value are Commissioners placing on local organisations, as this appears to require clarity?
  • How is added value being interpreted by the Commissioning Unit, and how do they evaluate contracts already in place?
  • Can the Commissioners provide a timeline of contracts up for revision or re-commissioning as this would help community based organisations in their preparation and possible partnerships with others.

Some of the these questions need to be answered directly by the Commissioning Unit as a whole, and will be sent by Julie Farrow for direct responses.

Feedback from the event was very positive:

It was great to get an update from Cambridgeshire County Council and have an opportunity to talk to other providers.

I enjoyed talking to other voluntary sector organisations and getting a better understanding of what the Commissioning Unit does and is.

I think the delivery of this event was spot – on. It was an opportunity to hear directly from a Commissioner and understand the issues and challenges they face.

I did not know that much about the Commissioning process before I came, so it was fantastic to get an overview of the issues that all parties face.

I loved this event and support the idea of regular get- together’s between the Commissioners and the sector.

Next Steps: 

Whilst it is clear that the Commissioners are working to some pressured financial constraints, the voluntary sector within Cambridgeshire as a whole now needs to respond. Two further forums will be advertised to do exactly that, and will take discussions further hopefully to a fruitful conclusion.

If you wish to book an advanced space for these two events (probably late May or early June) please contact

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