One aspect of the TR omnishambles that we've not touched on much is that of the 'rate card' - the price list that each CRC has for services on offer for purchase by the NPS. Right from the beginning of this ludicrous attempt at introducing a 'market' to rehabilitation services, NPS staff were instructed not to buy services from CRCs because a) they were expensive b) would eat into NPS budgets c) were crap.
Although we all know TR isn't working, politicians are especially stubborn at admitting they've got things seriously wrong and have made a mistake. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the policy at the MoJ and a succession of ministers is to continue the pretence that there's just a few teething problems and with a tweek here and an amendment there, everything will be fine. In fact chaos reigns and last year the CRCs threatened to walk away unless they were paid more money.
The MoJ eventually caved-in and gave them all a 'bung', but it's proving nowhere near enough, so another way of bailing-out the failing CRCs had to be found - a way of shovelling shed loads of public money in their direction, but hopefully without it being that obvious. The 'rate card' is the method now being adopted. Suddenly, hard-pressed NPS probation staff find themselves being urged and bullied into buying expensive services from the CRCs, in complete contrast to previous instructions. The tone of this NPS missive is clear:-
Offender Manager (Bands 3 and 4)
What do I need to do?
The main expectation is for you to ensure your offender's needs are met through commissioning via the rate card or through accessing free services available by your local directory. On the rare occasion where it is assessed that no commissioning or referral activity is required, this must be with the approval of your SPO and recorded on Delius under a 'management oversight' entry.
Having identified offender need through completion of OASys, ascertain if those services or interventions can be accessed for free by existing community provision. If not, you must consider accessing provision via the Rate Card.
'Top-up' services not included or met by the mandated TTG package, will need to be purchased via the Rate Card. Programmes such as BBR and TSP can be delivered under the generic licence condition of 'address your offending behaviour'.
Once you have identified a suitable Rate Card service, raise a 'discretional services NSI' and transfer this to the CRC provider. You should continue to liaise with the CRC to monitor the rate card activity, support Offender Engagement and enforce non-compliance as required.
So, what are these 'rate cards' and how much do the 'services' cost? Essex CRC is a Sodexo company and their menu of services and how much they cost can be found from a link here. There's a wide variety of programmes on offer such as TSP and BBR priced at £2,596 per start. Yes that's right - turn up for the first session and no more and the full fee is payable.
"In understanding the unit cost of services, as outlined in the brochure, it is important to recognise that the price is inclusive of ancillary costs incurred outside of direct delivery to service users including consumables, facilities, resources, staffing, logistics and administration."
"This brochure contains information on each service that the CRC offers; this includes the geographical coverage, service highlights, cost and how to purchase. It outlines the universal Through the Gate offer available to all offenders and the ‘fee for use’ offer, namely services which are purchased by the NPS from the CRC."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is unpaid work (UPW) charged?
The CRC are paid for the total number of hours of an unpaid work requirement, providing the service user attends their first hour of unpaid work. (induction does not count as the first hour).
How are Accredited Programmes charged?
The CRC is paid for Accredited Programmes by ‘Starts’. Only programmes where the service user attended the first session will result in payment.
If suspended or deselected are service users put back on for a further fee?
As above however if a service user drops off a programme, the CRC will attempt to enrol them onto the next programme under the same requirement, at no extra charge. The provision of catch ups remains unchanged.
Where are programmes delivered?
Programmes will continue to be delivered on CRC approved premises. For services where the CRC use a supply chain provider, these will either be delivered on CRC or NPS sites, community venues or the providers own premises. Mentoring support is predominately delivered out in the community. There also continues to be a wide range of UPW sites used which is reviewed on a regular basis.
How are quality, integrity and performance measured?
All services are subject to regular review of their performance and quality regardless of who this is delivered for. Supply chain services also are subject to a stringent contract management framework which sets out a process of service review designed to continually drive high quality. CRC will work closely with NPS operationally and strategically to review delivery, feedback, the service offer and processes in the hope we continue to develop services for offenders.
What if I have an issue or feedback regarding a service?
In the first instance if an issue cannot be resolved locally there is a formal reporting structure in place so that this can be escalated and addressed during the NPS and CRC interface meetings. In cases such as this please alert your manager who will escalate appropriately.
What are the obligations to communicate updates on the service being delivered, record sessions and feed issues back?
CRC will provide updates both verbally and via the use of formal reporting mechanisms such as NDelius. The expectation is that all interventions delivered are recorded onto NDelius which includes services provided by supply chain providers.
We know from several HMI Probation inspections that services are not being purchased and the reason given has been that staff don't understand the system, not that they have been discouraged. It will be interesting to see how the situation changes in light of the clear policy shift from NPS and MoJ towards the rate card.
Speaking of HM Inspectorate, I was astonished to learn that the demands of Brexit sees Dame Glenys Stacey having to take her eye off the ball with a bit of moonlighting:-
Farm inspection review announced
A comprehensive review of farm inspections to remove bureaucratic burdens placed on farmers has been announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove today.
For example, the current inspection regime can result in farmers being visited by as many as five different bodies - the Rural Payments Agency, Natural England, the Animal Plant and Health Agency, the Environment Agency or their local authority – all asking for similar information.
Each visit adds to the burden on farmers, and rigidity of the Common Agriculture Policy rules require inspections of precise criteria such as field margin dimensions and the specific placement of trees in fields. Equally, inspections over lapses such as slurry management and welfare standards are often haphazard.
The review comes as the government is preparing to publish an agriculture Command Paper that consults on future policy in this country after we leave the European Union.
Speaking at the NFU Conference today, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
"The rules associated with current subsidy payments are unwieldy and, very often, counter-productive. They require farmers to spend long days ensuring conformity with bureaucratic processes which secure scarcely any environmental benefits and which, in turn, require a vast and inflexible bureaucracy to police.
As does the current farming inspection regime, which, despite several recent attempts at simplification, remains as unwieldy as ever. Every year, farmers are confronted by a barrage of inspections from different agencies, often duplicating costs in both time and money.
I am delighted to announce that Dame Glenys Stacey will be conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of this regime, seeing how these inspections can be removed, reduced or improved to reduce the burden on farmers, while maintaining and enhancing our animal and plant health standards.
This review is not only long-required but also very timely as we guide our future approach and maximise the opportunities of leaving the EU. It will provide answers to some key general questions to guide our future approach, subject to the outcome of our negotiations with the EU."
Dame Glenys Stacey said:
"I am delighted to be asked to lead the much needed review of the farm inspection regime. With farming at the heart of the quality and safety of the food on our plate as well, and central to the stewardship of our wildlife, land and rivers, this is an excellent time to be working with farmers and their representatives, and all those who inspect farms, so as to get to a sensible inspection regime, post Brexit."
Dame Glenys has over twenty years’ experience in driving reform within public sector organisations. As a former Chief Executive of Animal health, a precursor to the current Animal and Plant Health Agency, she is well versed in the inspection challenge facing our farmers.
The Command Paper will provide further detail on government proposals to design agricultural support fit for the future after we leave the EU.