The Government do not collect the requested data centrally. However, the Local Government Association, in partnership with the Department has compiled the following information. Local authorities (LAs), when asked when they expected to award a contract to a host organisation for the purpose of setting up a local involvement network (LINk) declared the following (as of 23 April 2008):
42 LAs had awarded a contract prior to 1 April;
22 LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of April;
17 LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of May;
21 LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of June;
17 LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of July;
five LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of August;
10 LAs anticipated awarding a contract by the end of September; and
three LAs responded with an unspecified deadline but anticipated that they would award a contract by September.
While, these data do not represent a definitive picture as only 137 of the 150 LAs with social services responsibilities responded to the informal poll, we think the findings are encouraging.
The Department issued two guidance documents in August 2007, designed to help LAs get ready for LINks, one of these documents contained a ‘model contract’ for LAs to use as a reference. This guidance accompanied a one-off payment of £10,000 to each LA to assist them in the procurement process.
Since that time, LINk leads—who are based in LAs—have received monthly bulletins updating them on LINks policy developments and giving them the practical information they need to set up a successful LINk. Further, as part of the programme of support the Department is offering for LINks, expert advisers from the NHS National Centre for Involvement (NCI) have visited LAs to provide help and advice and good practice has been shared more widely at workshops and seminars. The NCI has also produced a compendium of guidance to help support LINks implementation.