Care England has made its submission to the government’s consultation on the procurement green paper.
Social, health, education and other services currently listed in the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) have a lighter set of procurement rules, commonly known as the Light Touch Regime (LTR).
Service contracts that fall within the scope of the LTR must be advertised in a Contract Notice. Contracting authorities are able to determine their own procurement procedure, but it must be at least sufficient to comply with the principles of transparency and equal treatment.
The procedure must be conducted, and any resulting contract awarded, in accordance with the information contained in the notice about conditions for participation, time limits for contacting the contracting authority and the award procedure to be applied.
These requirements are similar to the rules proposed for the new competitive flexible procedure. The main difference is that the LTR has a higher threshold of £663,540.
The LTR does not have specified time limits, for example for tender returns, but they are required to be reasonable and proportionate. Additionally, the publication of notices can be aggregated and completed quarterly.
The flexibilities proposed in the new flexible competitive procedure would allow the majority of the actions currently allowed under the LTR and therefore there seems to be little merit in retaining the LTR as a separate method for awarding contacts.
Consequently, the government proposes removing the Light Touch Regime and to apply the same rules to these services that will apply to other contracts for services. This provides more consistency across the procurement rules and contracting.
Care England said its submission sought to highlight the dysfunctionality of many commissioning processes across England and how it undermines innovation and provider sustainability. It also stressed that this does not have to be the reality and a new path for commissioning could be forged.
The representative body said it hopes that the government takes heed of its submission regarding the procurement green paper because, if anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of adult social care to England’s economy and society.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: ‘Going forward, there is a fundamental opportunity to place individuals and their advocates at the centre of commissioning the care and support services that make the biggest positive impact on their lives.
‘At present, commissioning processes too often do not take sufficient account of the true cost of care. Underfunding, in turn, undermines innovation within the adult social care sector. Whilst local authorities and CCGs should be mindful of their responsibilities to the development of the market.’
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