The future of the Probation Service Contents

4The Dynamic Framework

57.The Dynamic Framework91 is a commissioning mechanism to enable regional probation directors to procure rehabilitation and resettlement interventions across England and Wales. Services from the Framework will be used for individuals on community orders and those supervised on licence in the community.92HMPPS note:

58.The MOJ set out the design rationale for the Dynamic Framework:

Our plans for a Dynamic Framework will allow the NPS (and other organisations) to directly commission rehabilitative services in a way that encourages the participation of a range of suppliers including smaller suppliers and is responsive to the needs of local areas. We need the talent and expertise of the private, voluntary and public sectors working together as effectively as possible to cut reoffending and protect the public.94

59.Transforming Rehabilitation aimed to increase voluntary sector involvement in provision of probation services, however one of the primary criticisms of the TR reforms was the failure to meet this objective, and the NAO concluded that CRCs had “not developed supply chains as intended, primarily due to financial pressures”.95 Third sector involvement with CRCs was ‘patchy’: at October 2018, just 11% (159) of the 1,443 voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice sector were providing services directly to CRCs.96 HM Inspectorate of Probation noted:

It seems that the third sector is less involved than ever in probation services, despite best efforts; yet, many under probation supervision need the sector’s specialist help to turn their lives around.97

60.The Dynamic Framework is intended to help create a clearer role in probation delivery for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and smaller providers, including local and specialist services98 and resolve some of the issues with the Transforming Rehabilitation model. HMPPS has “designed the competition and commissioning processes to create greater accountability to co-commission services, and to give more direct opportunities for national and local voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to deliver services”.99

How will the Dynamic Framework operate?

61.HMPPS say the Dynamic Framework will be “split into categories based on needs and cohorts” and “allow organisations to qualify to provide services in whatever combination of local geographies (ranging from nationally through to a local and unitary authority level) best reflects their current footprint or ability to credibly expand, via selection of geographical areas from a predefined list provided.”100

62.Initially, the MOJ and HMPPS planned to let more than 200 contracts at Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) level for rehabilitative and resettlement support for Day 1101 in the following areas: Accommodation; Education, Training & Employment and Finance, Benefits and Debt; Dependency and recovery; Personal wellbeing; women’s services; and services for young adults in Wales. However, the scope of what is to be procured for Day 1 and how, has since changed. Procurement for most Day 1 services will now take place at regional, rather than PCC level. HMPPS, in their ‘Update to the Draft Target Operating Model’ say that covid-19 has affected both organisations’ ability to bid for contracts and the MOJ’s own capacity to let them, leading to a shift towards regional delivery:

For Day 1 we have also considered where it might be appropriate to procure services at a regional level rather than at a PCC level, thereby reducing the number of lots and making delivery for June 2021 more viable. A regional approach does not preclude local delivery.

63.In an August 2020 Probation Changes Bulletin, HMPPS was “pleased to say that since the competition was launched in June [2020], more than 350 organisations have registered an interest in delivering those interventions for use, and we are working towards launching the first competition, to procure Education, Training & Employment services.”102 In a further update in October 2020, HMPPS confirmed that “over 200 organisations have now submitted a response to qualify for the Probation Services Dynamic Framework. Bids have been received in the first competition, for education, training and employment services and on 28 September we launched competition, for accommodation services.”103

Stakeholder views on the Dynamic Framework

64.The Framework has been broadly welcomed as a positive step toward specialist localised probation service provision. Sodexo, for example, said it:

can enable the commissioner to respond to changing needs, meet local variations and demands, jointly commission solutions with others and create natural social value in local communities, including but not limited to the growth of peer-led organisations. It has the potential to create a strong justice network amongst providers and enable co-commissioning to emerge as regions become more sophisticated in their commissioning approach.104

65.Laura Seebohm, Executive Director, External Affairs, Changing Lives, added:

a national probation service with a very clear remit is more likely to bring together a very integrated and co-ordinated experience for people in the criminal justice system, and should reduce fragmentation. […] the focus on regional directors and a more regional approach means that it can be much more responsive to local need.105

66.Other organisations have, though, raised concerns about how it will work in practice, and whether it presents a genuine level playing field for smaller third sector organisations. Primary concerns include: complexity of the commissioning process; loss of probation delivery partners and the effect this may have on the competition for Dynamic Framework contracts; contract values and lengths, and the commissioning of Day 1 services.

Complexity of the commissioning process

67.The complexity of commissioning processes raises concern that smaller organisations will not, or will not successfully, bid for contracts, in spite of the intention of encouraging their participation and their specialist provision of services. Landworks, for example, welcomed the ambition to involve small and specialist organisations but said:

the Dynamic Framework process feels far from light touch in practice, and inevitably given the size of the initial contracts and the nature of the framework, the process will be dominated by larger providers who have the resources and regional reach to compete for the initial contracts.106

68.NACRO was similarly concerned:

It will be difficult, time consuming and financially costly for providers to engage with the framework. Different pathways will be commissioned at different levels: some regionally (such as accommodation and education, training and employment), and some at Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) level (such as finance, benefit and debt). If a provider wishes to bid to deliver services across the country in a pathway which is commissioned at PCC level, then they must take part in 42 different competitions.

69.Clinks also expressed reservations:

the process and the MoJ e-sourcing portal itself is extremely difficult to navigate. It is designed with commercial commissioning in mind and uses commercial language and terms that are not familiar to the voluntary sector. The use of such commissioning processes and portals has become a cross governmental feature that has significant implications for the wider voluntary sector but specifically the voluntary sector working in criminal justice which is disproportionately made up of smaller organisations less equipped to engage in such processes.107

70.Clinks fear the effect may be that many organisations will not participate: “as of 26th August, 150 organisations have completed Selection Questionnaire and a further 120 organisations have registered their interest on the dynamic framework portal. Of the 150 who have completed Selection Questionnaires, at least 60% of these are voluntary organisations. While on the face of it these numbers seem healthy, they represent a very small proportion of the voluntary sector working in criminal justice.” Clinks estimate that more than 1,700 voluntary organisations work in the criminal justice system across England and wales, with around half to two-thirds working with people in the community under probation supervision.108

71.NACRO told us about the challenge changes to the procurement process may pose to voluntary sector organisations: “Different pathways will be commissioned at different levels: some regionally (such as accommodation and education, training and employment), and some at Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) level (such as finance, benefit and debt). If a provider wishes to bid to deliver services across the country in a pathway which is commissioned at PCC level, then they must take part in 42 different competitions.”109 This may thus make it time-consuming and financially costly for providers to engage in the framework, particularly during the current climate, where Covid-19 is affecting organisation resources, both financial and operational, with many organisations currently “overstretched by their efforts to deliver services during the pandemic”.110

72.Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, told us of the work the Department had done to make the commissioning process more accessible for the voluntary sector:

we tried to make the areas as small as possible, so that they were able to bid for something that just covered their geographic area. The majority of the day one contracts are at PCC level rather than regional level. We heard a lot about the burden of the requirements on some of the technology, so we only required, for example, a self-certified equivalent to ISO security certification information, in order to reduce the requirements on them. We funded, or made available free of charge in some cases, consultancy support for smaller organisations, so that they could take part in the application process.111

73.The Minister also told us: “The system will not be perfect on day one. I have asked for some expert analysis of the bidding process we have already undertaken because we want to continue improving it. We are going to analyse who bid, what the problems are with the system and whether we can improve the bidding process so that we get it better for the next funding round.”112 The Minister further stated that: “ We are liaising with the Cabinet Office because there are some issues in relation to procurement that prohibit us from doing more, as we would like to do. There is a review at Cabinet Office level of procurement, and we are feeding into that.”113

74.We are pleased to hear that Ministry of Justice have taken steps to make the Dynamic Framework more accessible to smaller third sector organisations, and particularly welcome the consultancy support that the Ministry of Justice have funded or made available free of charge to some smaller organisations. There is concern, however, among smaller and third sector organisations that the ambition to include their expertise in the system may be defeated by complex processes that may favour larger bidders. We support the work the Ministry of Justice is doing to address those concerns. We welcome the analysis the Department is undertaking on who is bidding under the Dynamic Framework and the issues arising from the bidding process, and we recommend that the Ministry of justice publish this analysis, alongside a plan of what measures will be taken to address any issues identified.

75.We welcome the work the Ministry is doing to feed into the Cabinet Office review of procurement and recommend that the MOJ update the Committee on the outcome of this review.

Contract values and lengths

76.Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, announced on11 June 2020 that “charities and private sector organisations will be able to compete for more than £100 million a year from today (11 June 2020) to run services such as education, employment, accommodation and support for those with addictions.”114 Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, later stated that “the total value of contracts to be commissioned through the Probation Service Dynamic Framework would exceed £100 million per year once the system reached a steady state”.115

77.Table 2 sets out the indicative proportion of overall Dynamic Framework contract value for each service to be procured, using estimates from Financial Year 2024/25 as representative of steady state spend. The Minister notes that “This is drawn from data made available to prospective bidders in July 2020. All values provided are indicative only and subject to change. They should not be viewed as confirmation of contract values, Call-Off term or actual volumes. It should be noted that for some lots, they may be co-commissioned with other partners, and some of these co-commissioned services may be procured through an alternative procurement route than the Probation Services Dynamic Framework. This particularly applies to the Finance, Benefit & Debt and Dependency & Recovery lots.”116

Table 2: Indicative proportion of overall Dynamic Framework contract value for each service to be procured (using estimates for Financial Year 2024/25)

Sum of Lot 1: Accomodation services

Sum of Lot 2.1 Finance, Benefits and Debt services

Sum of Lot 2.2 Education, Training and Employment services

Sum of Lot 3: Dependency and Recovery services

Sum of Lot 4: Family, lifestyle and Wellbeing services

Sum of Lot 5: Women services


% of indicative Dynamic Framework contract value








Lot 4 includes a separately-commissioned contract for support to Young Adults in Wales only.

Source: PQ 76697 [on Probation: Finance], 20 July 2020

78.NACRO and Clinks have pointed out that the initial proposed volumes and contract values released in 2019 were significantly higher than those release in the most recent information: NACRO said “the values in year 1 and in some cases subsequent years, fall short of the current cost of delivering services and are based on significantly lower volumes of work.”117 Clinks adds: “we are concerned that in the first year the total investment in service delivery, once mobilisation costs are set aside, is potentially less than it is now. Values for some contract lots are significantly lower to those proposed in initial market warming materials in 2019, and in some cases are lower than existing contract values. […] voluntary organisations have reported that in some instances projected volumes are significantly lower than those they current work with.”118

79.Clinks was also concerned about the decision to ‘ramp up’ volumes over the course of the contract; under the proposed model, contracted services from June 2021 will be delivered to fewer people in the first year, before ramping up over the course of the contract to full delivery in year three and four (For example, indicative contract values for the accommodation service category in London are: £545,000 in 2020/21; £1.2m in 2022/23; £1.7m in 2023/24; and £1.8m in 2024/25).119 Clinks state: “ Given that there will be no fewer service users from day one of the system, it is difficult to understand the logic of this structure. Additionally, some proposed volumes for year one are actually lower than service currently being delivered, but nowhere has it been evidenced that there will be a reduction in demand from June 2021.”120

80.Catch 22, identified other concerns about proposed contract lengths and payment terms: “with the exception of ‘day one services’ which are envisioned to be three-year contracts for services, there will be significant uncertainty and variability in commissioned income. It will therefore be hard to employ staff on permanent, as opposed to fixed-term, employment contracts. All of this could be further hindered by the usual issue of public sector payment terms: typically, in arrears for services delivered. Some Police and Crime Commissioners, for example, pay for services rendered three months after delivery, creating cashflow challenges.”121

81.Although we recognise that contract values and volumes are indicative, we share in the concerns expressed by some of our witnesses, that in some instances projected volumes are lower than those that various organisations are currently working with. Given that contract value is based on projected volume, discrepancies in these figures, may prevent organisations from participating in the Dynamic Framework. For those that do participate, underfunded contracts may cause financial and operational issues later down the line which could affect the quality of service provision. The potential for contracts to be underfunded is of significant concern to the Committee and we recommend that The Ministry of Justice set out how they are modelling projected volumes and contract values, and also what is being done to ensure that contracts are sufficiently resourced and deliverable according to the funding that is available.

Continuity of service

82.Under current procurement plans, the Finance, Benefits and Debt and Addiction and Recovery pathways will no longer be included in procurement for Day 1 services, raising concerns about whether all service users’ needs will be met.122 NACRO identified “substantial issues, as these services can be critical to ensuring that someone has the best chance at successful resettlement. Any withdrawal or suspension of these services will therefore be detrimental to those service users who would have benefited from them, and can also have a negative impact on the ability of service users to engage with other services”.123

83.Suki Binning, Chief Executive Officer, Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC (Seetec) was concerned some services might fall between the cracks: “at the moment we do not quite know where restorative justice sits. We have dedicated teams that provide restorative justice and mentoring services. From some of the initiatives that we have seen up and down the country with other CRCs it is not really clear where they sit.” Trevor Shortt, Director of Operations - Community, Sodexo, similarly said not all services will be in place:

The question we need to deal with is what happens to services that are not part of the day one services, and what happens to the organisations that are currently providing some of those, and indeed the people who were involved in some often small and bespoke organisations and local services that we need to look after through the transition.124

84.Day 1 issues arise in almost any reorganisation, of course, and, as Mat Ilic, Chief Development Officer, Catch 22, reminded us, the Dynamic Framework is a longer-term tool and that Day 1 services should be “divorced” from what will happen when services bed down:

I view day one services as the insurance policy that will make sure that on 1 July next year, when the National Probation Service takes all responsibility for offender management, there is some provision that will ensure that people are not leaving prison into homelessness, that they are being enabled into work and that they are being supported in their wellbeing in other ways.125

85.Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, was confident that necessary services would be in place: “We have ensured that the day one services we will deliver are the ones required by orders of the court. Everything that would be in an order will be delivered on day one. There is also the regional fund, but then we will be adding to the services. The day one services under way at the moment in terms of the competitions are education, training, employment, accommodation, personal wellbeing, women’s services and services for young adult males in Wales.”126

86.No system can function fully from Day 1, but it is vital that probation service provision be as effective as possible. We acknowledge the fears of organisations such as NACRO about implementation of the Dynamic Framework, but equally note the confidence of the then Minister of Justice that services will be appropriately provided from the first day. We note the disappointment of those who may be affected by a shift from local to regional provision but appreciate why that was necessary at a time of pandemic. It is to be hoped that the ambition of including more third sector and smaller organisations with valuable specialist skills will be fully achieved in the longer term. Even given the difficulties that have arisen in its delivery, the Dynamic Framework appears overall to offer a more localised approach to service provision than was previously available. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice publish a commitment to ensure that procurement beyond Day 1 will take place at a more local than regional level wherever appropriate and where suitable services exist, to ensure that the services procured meet specific local needs. We also recommend that the Ministry of Justice also keep and publish records of procurement at regional/local levels and the volume of work awarded to smaller providers.

87.So far as Day 1 provision itself goes, we have heard convincing evidence that some services may not be available straight away and are not clear what will be provided for those people who would use them. We invite the Ministry of Justice to set out what initial provision will be offered on Day 1 to those who need financial, benefits and debt services no longer available, a need that may be exacerbated by the conditions created by the covid pandemic. We recognise that suitable services will be made available at a later date, but we seek clear information on when that will be. We recommend that the Ministry set out a post-Day 1 procurement timeline for services not in scope for Day 1.

91 HMPPS note that “The Dynamic Framework is a hybrid of a Framework Agreement and a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). This is permissible as the services to be procured are listed within Schedule 3 of the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) 2015 and so, pursuant to Regulation 74 of the PCF, will be subject to the Light Touch Regime under which the Authority is not obliged to comply with the full requirements of the PCR.”

93 Ibid

94 Ministry of Justice (PRO0033)

95 National Audit Office, Transforming Rehabilitation: Progress review (March 2019), p 6

96 National Audit Office, Transforming Rehabilitation: Progress review (March 2019), p 6

97 HM Inspectorate of Probation, Probation Supply Chains (April 2018), p 5

101 ‘Day 1’ throughout this report refers to the first day of operational service delivery under the new model. Day 1 services are those services that will be operational from day 1 of the new model. Day 1 is expected to be 26 June 2021.

102 HMPPS, Probation Changes Bulletin (August 2020)

103 HMPPS, Probation Changes Bulletin (October 2020)

104 Sodexo (PRO0005)

105 Q70 [Laura Seebohm]

106 LandWorks (PRO0011)

107 Clinks (PRO0015)

108 Clinks (PRO0015)

109 NACRO (PRO0013)

110 Ibid

111 Q185 [Lucy Frazer]

112 Q179 [Lucy Frazer]

113 Q185 [Lucy Frazer]

114 “Government to take control of unpaid work to strengthen community sentence”, Ministry of Justice, 11 June 2020

115 PQ 766 7 [on Probation: Finance], 20 July 2020

116 PQ 766 7 [on Probation: Finance], 20 July 2020

117 NACRO (PRO0013)

118 Clinks (PRO0015)

119 Clinks (PRO0015)

120 Clinks (PRO0015)

121 Catch22 (PRO0016)

122 Tom Yates (External Communications Executive at MTC) (PRO0032)

123 NACRO (PRO0013)

124 Q45 [Trevor Shortt]

125 Q72 [Mat Ilic]

126 Q188 [Lucy Frazer]

Published: 23 April 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement