Agenda item

Short Breaks Play and Leisure - Approval to award contract from 1 April 2023


Consideration was given to a report of the Managing Director, Children’s Services and the Director for Education, Early Years and Skills that sought approval of a high quality, flexible and inclusive statutory Short Breaks Play and Leisure offer for children and young people with SEND and their families in place from 1 April 2023.

Local authorities had a statutory responsibility to provide a range of Short Breaks Play and Leisure (SBPL) opportunities for children and young people with SEND and their families. A Short Breaks Duty Statement giving details of the local range of services and how they can be accessed, including any eligibility criteria must be published as a statutory responsibility under The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011.

The SBPL offer must provide opportunities enabling children and young people to access development and leisure activities suitable to meet their needs. The broad aims of SBPL were to provide:

           respite for families preventing breakdown and escalation to higher cost intensive services

           a safe place for children and young people to develop independence skills, build self-esteem and self-confidence and engage and interact with their peers.

           an alternative to more costly one to one Personal Advisor support where appropriate to meet individual needs.

Under the existing contractual arrangements, three providers currently delivered SBPL activities for children, young people and their families. They are Ability Wheelz, Sports Works and Starfish Swim, all within contract until 31st March 2023. This arrangement had been extended on an annual basis previously within a funding envelope which had seen no increase since 2017. During this time, demand had continued to rise, this was predicted to be a continuing trend. Data demonstrated that within this same period, demand for Education Health and Care plans had grown by 80% and this was expected to continue.

As part of the commissioning intentions and following discussions at a senior strategic level between Oldham Council and the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP previously known as the CCG), there was now an agreed funding envelope in place.

In order to develop commissioning intentions from 1 April 2023 onwards and as part of governance arrangements, a project group consisting of young people from Barrier Breakers supported by the Youth Service, Parent Carer Forum, Children’s Commissioning Team, Children with Disabilities Team, SEND Team, Children’s Social Care, ICP, Legal, Finance, HR and Procurement had been established.

A meet the market event to stimulate demand and seek feedback from providers on commissioning intentions and the service specification was held on 18 November 2022. This was advertised via The Chest in accordance with procurement protocols. In total 7 providers attended the event.

The intention was to award the contract with the funding envelope for a period of three years with the option to extend for up to a further two years. The option to extend would be subject to the successful provider achieving outcomes within the specification, the delivery of high quality, value for money services for our children and young people and continued funding being available. This would support the Council’s early intervention approach and contribute to the invest to save agenda by reducing demand for higher cost, more intensive services.

The Council was seeking one lead provider who would work in flexible partnership arrangements with a range of other organisations including community based and voluntary, faith and social enterprise groups enabling the service offer to respond to identified and emerging needs. There was an expectation within the service specification that the lead provider will be flexible in terms of their delivery model to meet any local and national changes including those arising from the recent SEND Green Paper consultation

Consultation had taken place with families in partnership with the Parent Carer Forum and with young people through Barrier Breakers.



Option 1 - Approve delegated decision making to award and enter into the statutory SBPL contract to the Managing Director, Children’s Services. The contract would become operational from 1 April 2023 for a period of three years with the option to extend for up to a further two years subject to performance and continued funding

Option 2 - Decide not to award the contract. This would mean a failure to meet statutory duties causing reputational risk to the Council and risk of challenge.


RESOLVED – That the Cabinet would consider the commercially sensitive information contained at Item 12 of the agenda before making a decision.

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