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Procurement breakthrough: competitive tendering no longer a requirement for care and support

The Scottish Parliament Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee this week agreed a series of key amendments to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill designed to offer authorities much greater discretion as to whether they put care contracts out to tender, and to give Scottish Ministers the power to issue statutory guidance on a range of procurement issues relating to care and support services.

The amendments were moved by the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in direct response to concerns expressed over a number of years by CCPS and its members about the impact of tendering on the workforce, the market and ultimately on people with care and support needs. Initiatives like Sense Scotland’s My life is not a three-year contract and activism by LDAS  strengthened the case advanced by providers, arguing that choices about care providers and services should be made by the people who rely on them, rather than by paper-based procurement exercises run by councils.

Jim Eadie MSP, with the support of CCPS, moved a probing amendment seeking to place a duty on contracting authorities to consider how procurement activity will improve the quality of services to, and wellbeing of, people who use (or will use) the service to be procured. Following agreement from the Deputy First Minister that this requirement will be dealt with in the statutory guidance, Mr Eadie withdrew the amendment.

To view the Committee meeting, please click on this link (and fast forward to 28.25 minutes for the relevant section). You can also view the following link to the latest CCPS update on the bill.  CCPS has also published the results of a recent survey of members about their experiences of procurement practice and the extent to which it is informed by existing social care procurement guidance.  CCPS intends to use this evidence to inform the development of the new statutory guidance.