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Transforming the market for social care paper 5: the purchase process - contracting for services by individuals

Briefing paper | June 2009

This paper is about tendering and contractual arrangements where the local authority is purchasing social care on behalf of individuals. Recognising that this is a more limited role in an era of individual budgets and direct payments, it identifies the remaining contracting remit for commissioners, and stresses the continued need for drawing up contracts with providers that are fair to all – providers, service users, and the commissioning authorities themselves.

The first section of the paper explores the generally applicable terms and conditions that make up contracts, beginning with a survey of the principles of good contracting, including sharing risk, fair and open tendering, setting and reviewing price, the role of service users in agreeing new contractual arrangements, and best practice in drafting the contract. It then provides a list of model clauses for the contract, complete with the reasoning behind each.

The second section deals with the details of service specification, who should be involved in constructing it, whether the specification is integral to the contract or a separate document, and its relationship to national minimum standards (NMS) and other legislative frameworks.

Finally, the paper proposes a format for service specification in the context first of a domiciliary then of a care home contract, complete with suggested wording, covering all key elements.