The Panel discussed the details of the decision relating to “Covid-related Contract Extensions – Community Services Directorate”, taken by the Mayor and Cabinet on 24 March 2021. It was noted that the decision had been requested for further consideration by the Chair of the Panel, Councillor Bill Brown. The Panel understood that the proposals which informed the decision were related to recommendations to vary / extend contracts in regard to home care, learning disability, and sexual health obligations.
In response to questions raised, Councillor Chris Best, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, informed the Panel that lead officers were present at the meeting to provide responses about the specificities of the contracts, but that she would give an overview to the proposals that had informed the decision taken by the Mayor and Cabinet.
Councillor Best gave an assurance to the Panel that the Council had arrangements in place to ensure best practice in procurement processes, and had broadened its approach to social value in light of its ambition to sign up to the principles of the Unison Ethical Care Charter (UECC) in 2018. However, the extenuating circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic had consequentially altered the way in which service delivery of some contracts were occurring.
Having provided a background response to questions raised, Councillor Best informed the Panel that service providers of the contracts under consideration were dealing with significant challenges in managing the response to the pandemic, and therefore were not in a position to engage at the present time with procurement processes. The Panel heard that the pandemic had also led to significant changes to services delivery models in health and social care, and as such, further time was needed to understand the impact of the developments. Thus, the decision by the Mayor and Cabinet was necessary to continually deliver to local people in accordance with the Council’s established principles and corporate strategy. Councillor Best confirmed to the Panel that the Mayor and Cabinet’s decision would be adequately implemented because a classification system had been designed and applied to each individual contract to aid the identification of actions needed to facilitate the variations / extensions as appropriate.
1. Home Care Contracts
The Assistant Director (Community Support and Care) responded to questions about home care contracts as follows:
Trade Union Recognition
It was stated that the Council’s Key Performance Indicators does not require service providers to list staff membership or involvement in trade union activities. Thus, current home care contracts were explicit on the issue, although staff involvement in trade union activities was encouraged and supported. However, there should be no reason why Council officials would not obtain a list from service providers if required by Members, although such a request should be made with an understanding that employees would not be compelled to divulge such information to their employers. The Officer also echoed the statement by Councillor Chris Best to confirm to the Panel that future commissioning and re-commissioning arrangements post-2018 ... view the full minutes text for item 3