Parent briefing re Sycamore Trust from  Havering Council

Sycamore Trust – Short breaks review

June 2018

Short breaks services were re-commissioned through a tendering process that took place in 2017. Eligibility criteria were reviewed as part of the re-commissioning. We have worked with all providers who have been engaged and informed throughout that period. There was an intention to be clear about those who should receive support to try and ensure that only those entitled to that support, received it.

At the tender stage, all providers, including Sycamore Trust, submitted their proposal and set out their pricing structure based on costs per individual in line with the framework agreement. At no stage during this process did Sycamore Trust raise the issue of the funding arrangements.

In June 2017, the short breaks contracts were awarded to Sycamore Trust for a weekday and weekend short breaks provision for young people in the borough. Following on from this in November 2017, Sycamore Trust highlighted their concerns about the sustainability of the funding of their sessions on an individual basis as their sessions were not full. It was requested that London Borough of Havering pay the costs until a review had been completed so that the service could continue to run during this time. Havering agreed to the review and the costs involved and undertook the review with Sycamore Trust.

The review found that, with the levels of demand coming from the short breaks community for Sycamore Trust’s services, the youth club was not financially sustainable. It was therefore mutually agreed that they not sign the framework agreement that would enable them to continue to provide council funded services. The five people they served that were eligible to receive council funded services were contacted and individual solutions found for them, as discussed and agreed with Sycamore Trust.

Subsequently Sycamore Trust has released some information that suggests reduced funding has been the cause of this situation. There has been a change to the way funding is being given, which is to pay based on individuals use of services instead of a block amount being paid per session regardless of the number of attendees. Other providers have adapted to the new arrangements and are attracting enough people to make their service sustainable under this new arrangement. Sycamore Trust has not been able to do so.

The council continues to ensure that those eligible for support are provided with services, and is actively working to ensure that a strong and varied market is available for people who need services. Ultimately if the services do not interest enough people it cannot be the council’s role to subsidise those services at the expense of others, reducing the number of people we can reach and support.

The council could only continue to work with Sycamore Trust for short breaks if they were to agree to sign the framework and agree to be paid for each individual’s attendance. Sycamore Trust has decided not to do so. It is therefore by mutual agreement that Sycamore Trust do not become part of the framework and that the people eligible for council support will be provided continuity of care with other providers on the framework and/ or by agreed means with the individual families. There is not a cut of funding but a change of provider or solution, with appropriate funding applied.