What needs to happen for sport to be commissioned by other services?

Understanding the context

Strategic commissioning is central to transforming services enabling efficient and effective joining-up of resources to focus on improving outcomes for individuals and communities.

Better local strategic outcomes can be achieved through developing the relationships and understanding between commissioners of health, social care and children’s services and providers of sport, physical activity and leisure services.

Commissioning involves four key activities that combine to achieve efficiency and maximise value:

  • Understanding needs and desired outcomes
  • Optimising resources
  • Targeting
  • Choosing the right delivery mechanism to best achieve the desired outcomes.

Commissioning is not: procurement; privatisation or outsourcing; just about the bottom line; or a dash for cash.

Sport and leisure can be both:

  • A strategic partner – contributing to discussions about the needs, challenges and opportunities in the local area and being a creative player in problem-solving and setting the direction; and,
  • A provider of services, and a contributor to broader outcomes for individuals and communities through effective use of existing resources, working in partnership and being commissioned.

To be in a position for sport and physical activity to be commissioned by others it is important to:

  • Understand what commissioning is and isn’t
  • Be clear who the commissioners are and what their priorities are – listen to their needs
  • Be a strategic player able to demonstrate what sport can achieve against those needs
  • Know what the capacity of the sport and physical activity sector is to be commissioned including the voluntary and community sector
  • Be willing to invest in long-term relationships which may lead to service re-design.

How can Sport England help?

  • Read “Strategic Commissioning, Sport and Physical Activity”. This is a summary paper on the outcomes of a joint Sport England and Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association project on commissioning support for local authorities.  The overall purpose of the project was to support sport and leisure professionals to engage more effectively with commissioners. The paper includes key learning and messages for the sport and physical activity sector.  
  • By using the Engaging Commissioning resource you will be able to gain an understanding of commissioning and take a step-by-step approach to mapping the commissioning landscape, understand the needs of commissioners and develop a suitable approach to the contribution sport and physical activity can make to their priorities.
  • As part of this approach you can use the Culture and Sport Outcomes Framework to develop a route map against corporate priorities, evidencing the contribution sport makes.
  • You can contribute to the needs and evidence base that informs the priorities for strategic commissioning, using the data and tools we have available – for example, the Local Sport Profile and Active People Interactive.
  • If you are specifically looking at health-related outcomes and commissioning there is more information under How Do I Demonstrate the Benefits of Sport to Health Improvement? and How Do the New Health Structures Work and How Do I Engage Them?
  • You can also learn from the experience of others. See the case study of commissioning in three local authorities in the north east who mapped the local commissioning environment in relation to key service areas and created a shared understanding with commissioners of the potential contribution that sport and leisure services can make.
  • For councillors with the portfolio for sport there is a Local Government Association briefing note (PDF) on commissioning, and major sessions held on commissioning on the Sport Leadership Essentials programme.

What's the result?

By using the material from these tools with local knowledge and insight you will:

  • Understand commissioning and how to be commissioned
  • Position sport, physical activity and leisure more strongly, by being both a strategic player, and a provider
  • Understand commissioners and their needs and therefore where you have mutual priorities
  • Have an agreed approach to engagement and be able to demonstrate through insight and evidence sport’s and physical activities contribution to those needs and priorities
  • Help agree priorities and joining-up of resources with the commissioners
  • Develop the local sport and physical activity market to be commissioned
  • Develop innovative, collaborative and sustainable mechanisms for the re-design and delivery of targeted services as required.

Note: a web resource is being developed from the learning from the Sport England and Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association joint project on commissioning support for local authorities. It is envisaged this will be available at the end of the summer.