16 November 2006
Purchasers should make more use of charity and voluntary sector providers to deliver social care services.
That was the message from Phil Woolas, minister for local government and community cohesion, launching a guide to buying services for vulnerable people.
He said: "Providers of housing-related support and social care services are often small-scale, third sector organisations. They may have strong links with the local community and provide local jobs. That means they are key partners as well as providers in making services responsive to people's needs and innovative in how they are delivered.
"This is a vital part of creating vibrant and successful communities. The procurement process must recognise the real value of this partnership and what small and third sector providers can contribute."
A guide to procuring care and support services was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government and advises on how to plan and run a social care procurement programme. It is the result of 18 months' work by Leeds and Plymouth City Councils, who applied best practice to the purchase of housing and other services.
It was issued days after the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which reviews and reports on social care services in England, published Time to care?, a report criticising social care purchasers and procurement departments for not understanding the services they buy (Web news, 25 October).
The guide is available at www.spkweb.org.uk