Commissioning of health and social care by local authorities
Produced in partnership with Ros Ashcroft of DAC Beachcroft
Commissioning of health and social care by local authorities

The following Local Government practice note Produced in partnership with Ros Ashcroft of DAC Beachcroft provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Commissioning of health and social care by local authorities
  • What is commissioning?
  • Legal requirements applicable to commissioning activities
  • Complying with general public law requirements
  • Complying with duty to consult where material changes to services
  • Complying with guidance
  • Complying with the Equality Act 2010
  • Public procurement regulations
  • Best value
  • Specific requirements as to commissioning of social care provision
  • More...

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020). CA 2020, among other measures, makes provision to introduce changes to the Care Act 2014 duties on local authorities when needed during management of the pandemic. For details, see News Analysis: The Coronavirus Act 2020 and its impact on social care provision. For further information, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—social care tracker and Coronavirus (COVID-19)—local government tracker.

This Practice Note summarises:

  1. what commissioning is in the context of local authority duties to provide health and social care

  2. the legal requirements in respect of commissioning

  3. integrated and joint commissioning, and

  4. the risk of challenges to commissioning decisions

What is commissioning?

The term 'commissioning' has not been defined in legislation or case law and does not have an exact technical meaning.

'Commissioning' is an umbrella term used by local authorities and health providers to refer to the process by which arrangements are made with third parties:

  1. to deliver services, facilities or resources

  2. to exercise certain functions

on the authority's or health provider's behalf. This includes:

  1. identifying and selecting a third party provider

  2. agreeing the terms on which such services are provided and measured

It will often include a competitive tendering or procurement process.

As such, local authorities do not have a legal duty to commission particular services, or to be involved in commissioning at all. However, it will

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