Education, Skills and Business
Exempt / Confidential Item:
Declarations of Interest Received:
Participation in the SEND Flexible Purchasing System
Summary of Decision:
To authorise that St Helens Council join the revised North West Regional SEND Flexible Purchasing System.
Placements North West is leading on the development and subsequent procurement of a North West Flexible Purchasing System (FPS) for SEND Educational Placements (special educational needs and disabilities), for children and young people aged 0-25 years. This has been endorsed by the Directors of Children's Services in the North West.
The Purchasing System is due to commence in January / February 2021.
The new framework contract will be for ten years duration. It will name all NW local authorities to allow for its use during the life span of the contract, but will only be used by those LAs who actively ‘opt in’. Whilst the Council is not required to use the framework, in order to opt in, Councils are asked to agree to a collaborative approach as set out in the Terms and Conditons.
There are clear benefits for St Helens to be part of a framework which provides greater clarity and consistency to provision and payment schedules. The framework will be open to all public sector bodies and there will be the option for mini competition or direct award.
The FPS will follow the SEND Code of Practice and is designed to enable Local Authorities to find educational placements for those 0-25 at Independent Non Maintained Special Schools and Specialist Post 16 institutions. There will be
3 school placement types on the FPS initially:
1. Day placements
2. Residential school placements – 38 weeks
3. Residential school placements - 52 weeks
It is anticipated that more services will be added over the 10 year period to meet gaps in provision.
The FPS aims to achieve:
•A fair, open and transparent process
•As simple and as user friendly as possible – quicker, easier placement finding
•A good selection of quality providers
•Consistent delivery of service and outcomes
•Transparency in price
This framework builds on a strong foundation within Placements North West which has purchased residential placements through collaboratively procured sub regional frameworks since 2012 which has enabled LAs to manage homes based on cost and quality and to develop a consistent specification.
To be part of the contract, St Helens Council will be committing a relevant officer to review and contribute to the Lots on the framework at regular points for providers to apply to be on the framework. The framework is flexible and can be used as and when a placement is needed and collective negotiations between other member Local Authorities could provide a better outcome.
This proposal supersedes approval in 2017 for the participation in the joint and collaborative framework tender for Education placement's and provision (DED0156 2016/17).
Summary of Reason for Decision:
This will help develop availability and quality of supply, and provide greater clarity and understanding about what Councils will be purchasing.
Reason for Decision:
The NW has purchased residential placements through collaboratively procured sub regional frameworks since 2012. This contract is the next iteration.
Risks Associated with this Decision:
1. Legal challenge being made to the FPS or any variation to the FPS or call-off contract -
2. Costs associated with termination of the agreement – this relates to potential winding up costs should the FPS be terminated early.
Measures to Redress Risk:
1. This has now been tightened up so that challenge to any variations made unilaterally by the Placing Authority will be the responsibility of that Placing Authority which limits our exposure to costs (except in the case of our own variations). In terms of potential legal challenge the risk is viewed to be minimal.
2. The FPS can only be terminated by agreement of all parties so it is very unlikely that it would be terminated prior to its natural expiry. The IAA covers redundancy costs at termination. most of the work on the FPS is front loaded with Placing Authorities responsible for managing their own call-off process. It is unlikely therefore that there would be staff that wouldn’t be redeployed on expiry and if there are redundancies we are looking at only a couple of people with costs to be shared between 23 Authorities so minimal risk.
Anti Poverty / Human Rights / Agenda 21 Implications:
Please Contact Sharon Fryer - Ext 1037 for more details.