1. Introduction

In Somerset, we want people to live healthy and independent lives, supported by thriving and connected communities, with timely and easy access to high quality and efficient support when they need it.

This Policy sets out the overarching principles and key processes that enable the Local Authority (Somerset County Council) to ensure the care provision offered to our residents is of the highest quality through robust contract management.

As a commissioning Council, Somerset spends in the region of £500m each year on third party suppliers, accounting for approximately 60% of the Local Authority’s total expenditure.  Supplier relationships are therefore critical to the Council’s success and successful management of contracts depends on the individuals involved forming cross-functional relationships with colleagues across a range of disciplines and services to develop a balanced view of risks and opportunities. 

The Council uses an integrated commissioning process which flows through the stages set out in the diagram below:

The Government Commercial Function defines contract management as a set of 11 key principles which we have adopted for the purposes of defining contract management at Somerset County Council.  All those involved in contract and supplier management should:

  • Ensure that contracts are known and understood by all those who will be involved in their management;
  • Be clear about accountability, roles and responsibilities;
  • Establish and use strong governance arrangements to manage risk and enable strategic oversight;
  • Adopt a differentiated approach based on risk;
  • Manage contracts for business/public service outcomes;
  • Accept that change will happen and plan for it;
  • Measure and report on performance and use KPIs (key performance indicators) and data efficiently to incentivise good performance;
  • Drive continuous improvement, value for money and capture innovation;
  • Accept that successful delivery of major projects is best achieved through a single fully integrated team;
  • Ensure that links are made with organisation and/or government-wide SRM (supplier relationship management) programmes;
  • Adopt and encourage mature commercial behaviours.

The purpose of contract and supplier management is to work closely with providers to: 

  • ensure the contract is being successfully delivered to the standards agreed
  • maximise value for money 
  • provide a system of monitoring, managing and improving provider performance 
  • ensuring all parties recognise and understand their contractual roles and responsibilities 
  • monitor compliance to the terms of the agreement, key performance indicators and service level agreements 
  • drive continuous improvement 
  • identify lessons learned to inform future contract terms or strategies. 

2. Contract Monitoring and Review

Somerset County Council’s Adult Social Care Department has a dedicated Contracts Team, operating within our Commissioning and Quality service, to support and ensure contract compliance.  We maintain a contracts register and all Contract Officers have a portfolio of contracts allocated to them to ensure contracts are managed and reviewed.

Our starting position is that the responsibility for the quality of service provided rests with the organisation that delivers that service. The key role of our contract management process is to then judge, respond to and manage provider performance against expected service standards, key performance indicators and contractual obligations.

This policy helps to ensure contracts are managed consistently and involve a standard range of tasks.

All contracts will require a set standard level of management but this will vary depending on the scale and complexity of the contract.  Contracts will be assessed prior to their commencement using a tiering tool to identify any extra support and contract management required.  This tool is an assessment of the risks associated with the delivery of the contract and looks at the financial value, the strategic importance, and the complexity of the contract in determining the appropriate tier.

Whilst Quality Assurance Reviews – please refer to our Quality Assurance Policy – will be undertaken in person with individual services and care settings, contract reviews will take place at least annually with the provider organisation.  Predominantly these will take place virtually and follow a standard agenda to ensure contract compliance, that obligations have been met and outcomes are delivered.

This approach allows the service to adopt a more strategic approach across settings and to see the wider provider contract picture, as well as supporting providers with their capacity and resources.

Out of county contracts 

The Local Authority does not undertake contract reviews with out of area placements.  Quality assurance checks will be undertaken when setting up contracts and through operational care management review processes.  The outcomes of care management reviews will inform quality assurance.  More significant quality issues (for example, significant non-compliance or safeguarding concerns) will be shared with Somerset through the quality and safeguarding responsibilities of other Local Authorities.  

The ADASS publication “Out-of-Area Safeguarding Adults Arrangements – Guidance for Inter-Authority Safeguarding Adults Enquiry and Protection Arrangements” (June 2016) identifies specific principles for inter-authority working on cross boundary work in adult safeguarding. https://www.adass.org.uk/out-of-area-safeguarding-adult-arrangements  

3. Meet the team

The importance of having a skilled, professional and expert contract monitoring function to support the delivery of this Policy is recognised. We value our people and support the development of their skills and capabilities to realise their individual potential.  Our Contract Officers undertake Contract Management Capability training to ensure they have the capability of negotiating, managing and monitoring contracted suppliers effectively and to ensure our communities receive services at the quality expected. We support ongoing training and development for the team and ensure our staff remain up to date with new developments or legislative reform. 

Meet our Contracts Team:

Niki Shaw – Strategic Manager (Quality & Performance)

Chloe Cox – Service Manager (Contracts & Quality Assurance, Sourcing Care)

Kayleigh Jolly – Contract Officer (Domiciliary Care)

Hannah Smith – Contract Officer (Care Homes)

Rachael Pringle – Contract Officer (Care Homes)

Becky Huxtable – Contract Officer (Care Homes, Healthwatch, SWAN Advocacy, Enham)

Jason Mckenna – Contract Officer (Community Equipment, Wheelchairs, Sensory Loss)

4. Feedback

Stakeholder feedback is really important to us and is crucial in helping us to deliver the best possible support to our local market.

We will be proactive in seeking feedback following any contract review. but encourage feedback at any time about your experience of the service we provide via our Feedback Form:

Care Provider Contracts & Quality Assurance Feedback Form

You can also contact our team via the following mailbox: asccontractsandqualitymonitoring@somerset.gov.uk