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The commercial services that are saving money
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is in place to make sure that small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to government contract opportunities, making it easier for them to do business with government, and making sure that 25 per cent of government’s spend, either directly or in supply chains, goes to SMEs by 2015.
Additionally, CCS makes sure that departments publish details of future projects and contracts on the Contracts Finder website every six months, giving businesses the confidence and time to invest in relevant skills, labour and capabilities to win these contracts. It works to obtain simpler, more flexible EU procurement rules in Brussels to support economic growth by making the procurement process faster, less costly, more effective for both business and procurers; this will affect more than £45 billion of central government spend (more than £230 billion for the UK public sector) every year. This will help commissioners of public services to become more effective through the Commissioning Academy and use commercial intelligence more effectively to improve the value gained from contracts across government.
Terms and conditions
As a guide for suppliers and buyers there is a standard set of terms and conditions for framework agreements and call-off contracts for goods and services bought under the agreement. The template for call-off contracts forms the basis of the terms and conditions in individual further competitions and can be supplemented or refined with additional terms to suit the requirement.
All CCS suppliers must submit monthly management information (MI) returns. This is done online through the MISO system. You will need to include the unique reference number (URN) for each customer listed on the return. Failure to submit MI returns correctly or within the agreed timescales may incur admin fees.
CCS is updating its internal Customer Relationship Management system and as a result the weekly downloadable list of URNs will be changing. The existing sheet of four tabs will reduce to three, listing all live URNs with customer details, a second detailing merges and a third detailing name changes. Legacy tabs will be added for the time being showing older changes that are not present on the new system. The sub-sector is now known as organisation type and is being updated to better and more accurately describe the organisation within its sector.
The Non-Medical Non-Clinical (NMNC) agreement provides access to temporary staff, interims and contractors in any white collar or blue collar role from the most junior to the most senior, including board level roles across eight lots.
The agreement was developed to manage and mitigate the legal and commercial risks associated with engaging temporary staff and to utilise and reflect the Agenda for Change pay rates. The agreement also introduces a single point of contact for all requisitions, queries and interim personnel issues and delivers significant invoice management efficiencies through the introduction of consolidated invoicing.
It provides regular and detailed management information and reduces the administrative burden related to the engagement of interim personnel. This, in turn, improves the time taken to engage interim personnel and thus improves the quality, availability and performance of interim personnel.
The eight lots are divided as follows - Lot 1 – Neutral Vendor Supply: A neutral vendor does not supply temporary workers directly from their own resource pool. They use an approved supply chain to complete the call-off agreement. For the customer receiving the service, the provision is seamless as you contract only with the neutral vendor and not with the supply chain directly.
Lot 2 – Master Vendor Supply: A master vendor takes overall responsibility for providing customers with their temporary worker needs. They will provide temporary workers directly from their own resource pool and may make up any shortfall by managing supplementary supply from an approved sub-contractor supply chain in line with Framework Agreement Schedule 7: Sub-Contractor(s). You contract only with the master vendor, and they are responsible for their supply chain.
Lots 3 to 8 - These lots are for the direct award or further competition of temporary workers from agencies awarded a place on the relevant lot according to their ability and competitiveness in supplying temporary workers within the job categories appropriate to each lot.
One of the most significant benefits is the choice of pay rate. This is an agreement based on the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rates and pay bands including provision for compliance with Agency Worker Regulations following 12 weeks of service. Additionally, it creates a clear charge rate. This is evident through the straightforward rate card which shows charge rates for both PAYE and limited company temporary workers based on the AfC pay rates.
NMNC also proves beneficial in its approach to risk management, focusing on managing the risks associated with engaging interim workers e.g. Agency Worker Regulations and stakeholder pensions and a regular audit to ensure compliance with NHS Employers Employment Check Standards.
Management Information becomes available on demand for all customers to detail reported spend and there is no temporary to permanent charges - so long as you comply with the transfer fee rules.
The purpose is to illustrate changes to the average actual rates paid by NHS trusts within the financial year 2014/15 to the rates actually paid and the benefits therein.
The methodology for calculating savings is measured by taking the baseline price ((average financial year total hourly charge rate paid for matched roles x counterfactuals) - (actual total hourly charge rate paid for matched roles)) x volume (hours) consumed).
Through the use of the agreement for all NHS requirements, numerous non-cashable benefits will also be generated. Firstly, the agreement will help support the NHS with their procurement strategy to ensure that the right resources, with the right capabilities and skills are in the right place, at the right time and at the right cost to meet required departmental objectives.
Due to the consolidation of health spend on temporary staffing, suppliers will continue to work closely with HR and procurement managers to ensure that staffing options and resource strategies of departments are implemented and aligned with their wider business strategy and goals of the NHS.
The agreement also allows NHS departments to have access to suppliers of certain skill sets that are in short supply at competitive rates, and ensures that the bargaining power of customers will increase as cost pressures rise and demand falls. Meanwhile, compliance with NHS Employers standards for safer recruitment will continue to be met, including but not limited to, criminal record checks, right to work in the UK checks, occupational health checks, employment history and reference checks, professional registration and qualification checks and identity checks.
Finally, an established and effective system for supplier management information collection and the control of health spend by allowing customers access to supplier rates will be generated.
Award by direct call-off
You can award call-off of services directly where the terms (meaning the information on award of call-off contained in the framework agreement and the call-off terms and conditions) are sufficiently precise and complete to identify the most economically advantageous offer. This will be the case where the commercial and technical specifications and all the other contract documents define the services, the supply of services and the application of the prices with sufficient precision and completeness.
To award by direct call-off you should identify all suitable suppliers, by reference to the lot descriptions and regions supplied with services. Crown Commercial Services provides a simple tool which asks you to input: Whether you want to hire temporary work-seekers (employment business) or to employ fixed-term candidates (employment agency); Which lot you are interested in; Which pay bands/pay ranges you are interested in; and which region you are in.
The tool will identify the name and branch information of the suitable suppliers. You should then rank the supplier with the most economically advantageous offer. Go in turn to each of the next highest ranking suppliers until the requirement is met, if the supplier awarded the call-off is unable on occasion to supply suitable temporary workers. You could award for a defined period of time, providing the period falls within the duration of the framework agreement.
Call-off by further competition
You should award call-off of services by conducting a further competition where the collection of terms laid down in the framework agreement is not sufficiently precise or complete to cover the service requirements. This will be the case where the commercial and technical specifications and all the other contract documents do not define the services, the supply of services and the application of the prices with sufficient precision and completeness to meet your requirements of the particular supply contract. The basic terms cannot be renegotiated nor can the specification be substantively changed. Basic terms can be refined or supplemented where the particular service requirements were not and could not be foreseen when the framework agreement was established.
To award call-off by further competition you should identify which suppliers are capable of meeting your requirements. Unless it is clear how to objectively determine which suppliers are capable of meeting the requirements of the particular supply contract, then you should invite all suppliers to participate in the further competition.
In addition to this, you should issue written/electronic tender documentation to all capable suppliers, with a reasonable time limit for return of tenders. You can modify award criteria, providing they derive from the original award criteria and the capable suppliers are notified of this. Award criteria that are completely new cannot be introduced in a further competition. Evaluate the returned tenders against the award criteria, using an evaluation plan and the weighting (totalling 100 per cent) that best reflects your circumstances and requirements, within the range limits, and award to the supplier with the most economically advantageous offer, represented by the highest score.
If the supplier awarded the call-off of service is unable on occasion to supply suitable work-seekers then you should go in turn to each of the next highest scoring suppliers until the requirement is met. Decide whether and how to group job descriptions for the purposes of making awards of call-off. You could award for a defined period of time, providing the period falls fully within the duration of the framework agreement.