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Decision details

Contract for Additional social workers for Care Act and Carers assessments

Decision Maker: Executive Director: Adult & Communities

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


In December 2023, following a request from the Executive Director: Adults and Communities, the Local Government Association (LGA) undertook an Adult Social Care (ASC) ‘preparation for CQC assurance’ Peer Review for Bristol City Council (BCC), which involved BCC, system partners and stakeholders. The review provided an external view from a team of peers about the experience of people receiving support from BCC ASC. The peer team’s work was specifically focused on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection framework.
The report and feedback presented by the review team was focused in on 18 key messages and highlighted a number of areas for improvement. They also praised the work being done on ASC transformation, commissioning and the work started on co-production. They reported a number of areas of good practice, however, they also raised the issue of the length of time people wait for a Care Act assessment, which aligned with early review work led by our new operations director, which had highlighted considerable pressure in locality teams.
A primary focus during the review therefore was on waiting times for new (previously unassessed) individuals in need of care and support. To prepare for the upcoming CQC inspection, short- and medium-term remedial actions have been put into place. However, in addition to this work going on within the locality teams, it is recognised that some additional Social Work capacity is urgently needed to reduce waiting lists.
In order to put in place the required additional capacity, a contract will be commissioned through the Council’s procurement partner Constellia. The Council will enter a contract for a ‘batch’ of assessments to be completed as opposed to recruiting agency social workers through Guidant which is proving very different. Social workers are currently very difficult to recruit and bring onto our locality teams even as agency workers. Initial recruitment through this route is just to try and get back to full establishment across the teams while this request is to provide additional capacity quickly to target the waiting lists. (There is currently a review of our pay scales for social workers across Children’s and Adults.) The quality of the work will be signed off and overseen by a Principal Social Worker (PSW). The contract will be set up on the basis of payment by results, i.e. completion of each assessment and initial review. This methodology has already been used to good effect to reduce reviews pending.
This commission will build upon the existing arrangement that ASC has (through Constellia) with Liquid Personnel (a specialist recruitment consultancy covering social work, healthcare, criminal justice and special educational needs). Procurement advice has been sought. Agency workers are ideally required to commence from 1 April or as soon after as is practically possible. ASC must demonstrate a timely response to securing extra capacity to start to address the waiting lists from the start of the new financial year. Having highlighted this as a priority issue, ASC want to be able to take prompt action to address it.


Approval to direct award a new contract to Liquid Personnel through Constellia for the provision of additional social workers to undertake up to 1400 Care Act assessments at a cost of up to £700k during 2024/25.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1 – Wait until April Cabinet. Rejected due to the pressing need to progress the work.
Option 2 – Use Guidant to recruit agency staff individually – Adult Social Care is already trying to recruit additional agency capacity to meet our vacancies against our existing establishment. Rather than to provide additional capacity, this is to try to return to full establishment. This has proved difficult and although we have had some recruitment take place in recent months it is slow and does not meet the capacity required to be available to us from the start of the new financial year.

Publication date: 25/03/2024

Date of decision: 15/03/2024