Contracts for care and support services provided by the third sector have become increasingly subject to procurement processes, in particular competitive tendering, since the EU Procurement Directives were transposed into Scots law in 2006. Subsequent reforms to procurement law, policy and guidance (see below for details) have attempted to improve public procurement in general as well as recognise the unique nature of care and support purchasing.
There is a clear tension between public procurement –which views social care services as business opportunities to be awarded through competitive tendering and social care policy which focusses on supporting choice and control; tailoring support to the individual; and; building and maintaining relationships. The drive towards collaboration and partnership, in the design and delivery of social care also runs counter to the practice of competitive tendering- adding a significant level of challenge to collaborative processes. In 2013 CCPS explored these tensions through a major national survey of providers’ experiences of commissioning and procurement.
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