Scotland’s local authorities spend around £3bn each year on social care services, much of it with specialist third and independent sector care providers.
Commissioners need to find the right service for each person’s needs and, with such a wide range of options available, this can be a challenging task. In 2011, the social care category team was formed to work in partnership with local authorities and providers to deliver innovative procurement solutions across a range of goods and services. Since then, Scotland Excel has developed a portfolio of social care contracts which comprises:
- care agency workers
- care homes for adults with learning disabilities
- children’s residential care
- fostering services
- secure care services
- community meals
- telecare and telehealth technologies
What our social care frameworks have in common is that they are developed around positive outcomes for people accessing services and the tender specifications are designed to support their delivery.
As well as improving outcomes for vulnerable people in our communities, social care frameworks are helping local authorities manage their commissioning budgets more effectively. They support a consistent approach, provide detailed management information and ensure sustainability of care services. We also encourage providers to pay the Scottish Living Wage and ensure that framework costs enable this.
In 2013, Scotland Excel – working in collaboration with partners – developed the first national framework for the provision of social and care agency workers designed specifically for Scottish councils. Our procurement specialists recognised early in the process that chronic low wages was a critical factor affecting morale of care workers and responded by placing the Living Wage at the heart of the procurement strategy.
Our pioneering framework was carefully structured so that bidders recognised the Supplier’s Fee was not the bottom line and they would not be penalised for offering a fair rate of pay to agency workers. This creative approach – supported and endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation’s Social Care Campaign - meant suppliers were under no pressure to suppress pay rates in order to be competitive. Instead, the Living Wage became an integral element of the process, as suppliers submitted minimum and maximum rates and were encouraged to commit now, or in the near future, to gaining Living Wage accreditation.
This imaginative approach is believed to be the first time suppliers have been encouraged to sign up to paying the Living Wage within a Scottish public sector framework, and was independently recognised with a Government Opportunities (GO) Procurement Innovation or Initiative of the Year Award 2015.
While Scotland Excel and local authorities have developed a series of frameworks covering a number of high risk services, there is much more we can do together in partnership with providers. Scotland Excel is currently working with partners in other complex service areas including care home services for older people. Moving forward, Scotland Excel also plans to review and research the adult supported living and care at home market across Scotland.