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Case Study: Innovative Approach Secures Living Wage for Care Workers

Scotland Excel pioneer innovative approach.

Social Care

In August 2013, Scotland Excel began work to develop the first national framework for social and care agency workers.

Despite the size of the marketplace and the number of organisations operating within it, the social care sector has a high proportion of hard-to-fill vacancies. Furthermore, council demand is often reactive and urgent in nature as they respond to unexpected absences and failed recruitment drives, therefore the framework aimed to address these issues.

Scotland Excel created a technical working group of HR and social work staff to identify the core requirements of councils. The group identified agreed specifications for the 14 most common social and care agency worker roles, for which suppliers submitted a range of hourly rates. This provided flexibility and choice for councils depending on their requirements.

Ron Keilloh, Senior Contracts Officer at City of Edinburgh Council commented on the process: “The task undertaken to identify the 14 most common roles was invaluable for creating a framework that would meet our demands. The framework now offers a breadth of roles that meets the Council’s needs and ensure that the service continues to be provided safely and at the quality level demanded.”

The framework also sought to exceed expectations by achieving a real advancement for the sector through the inclusion of innovative Living Wage provisions. In October 2013, the Living Wage Foundation launched its Social Care Campaign which specifically called for a better deal for care workers. In support, Scotland Excel recognised that the strategy taken would need to legally accommodate current and future policy in this area, but also reflect the substantial employment market variances across Scotland.

To accommodate this, the tender was structured so that suppliers would not be penalised for offering a fair rate of pay to agency workers. This was achieved by only commercially evaluating the Supplier’s Fee. This creative approach meant that suppliers were under no pressure to reduce pay rates in order to be ‘competitive’. Suppliers submitted minimum and maximum rates, which incorporated the Living Wage, allowing councils to engage agency workers at the Living Wage.

Managing Director, Marion Elder at SPS Social Care Ltd, one of the suppliers on the framework, commented on this innovative approach: “By taking this approach Scotland Excel allowed us to remain competitive in our tender. We were able to focus on the value we could deliver to councils without compromising the rates paid to agency workers.”

Scotland Excel engaged with the Living Wage Foundation to encourage suppliers on the framework to pay the Living Wage, while also being compliant with the EU Procurement rules. Of the 13 suppliers on the framework, one supplier has become Living Wage Employer/Service Provider accredited, while the vast majority of others are committed to, and progressing towards, achieving accreditation.