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Factsheet - About LCS

Our factsheet has answers to frequently asked questions

Factsheet - About London Care Services

1.  London Councils

London Councils is a joint committee established by the London Boroughs and City Councils under section 101 to 105 of the Local Government Act 1972.

It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of 31 London Boroughs and the City of London.  London Councils runs a number of services on behalf of member authorities, including London Care Services (LCS), Freedom Pass and Taxicard.

 

2.  London Care Services

LCS is a service of London Councils.  LCS;

  • Negotiates prices of residential and foster care services for looked after children with providers that offer these services, on behalf of member authorities
  • Carries out due diligence and quality checks on providers
  • Provides relevant information on LCS portal on providers and services which have been approved
  • Draws up and manages the LCS Model Contract, which member authorities  use when they make a placement with an LCS approved provider

London Councils is authorised by the participating authorities to act as their agent in respect of LCS.  Section 1 of the Local Authority Goods and Services Act 1970 permits local authorities to provide services to other local authorities and public bodies, and to charge for those services.

 

3.  The LCS Model Contract

The LCS Model Contract is the contract for use by LCS member authorities when they place looked after children and young people in residential homes and independent fostering agencies that have been LCS approved.

The Contract sets out terms and conditions for service delivery and financial arrangements between member authorities and providers, and it is substantiated on relevant legislation (e.g., Children and Families Act) and related standards (e.g. Ofsted Inspection Reports and the Local Authority Sufficiency Duty).

 

4.  What documents comprise the LCS Model Contract

The LCS Model Contract consists of the following documents:

  • Standard Terms and Conditions - this document outlines the general contractual terms and conditions for the signatory parties.
  • Individual Agreement (IA);
    • This document executes the contract between the member authority and the provider concerned
    • To be completed by the Local Authority when they make a placement with a provider
    • Specifies the services delivered to the individual child / young person
    • The cost of the services expected to be delivered will be recorded in this document
    • The IA needs to be signed by both parties when a child / young person is placed
  • Schedule 1(a) Fostering Specification (Service and Price) and; Schedule 1(b) Residential Specification (Service and Price)
    • There are separate Schedules for residential and fostering providers
    • The schedule outlines what is expected, the obligations and responsibilities for both parties and member authority in terms of service delivery and fees
    • It specifies the types of services that a provider can offer
    • It clarifies the pricing for core and / or specialist / targeted services and any additional services provided

 

5.  LCS Model Contract placement type structure

The Contract defines services as:

  • Core
  • Respite / Short Break
  • Targeted and Specialist
  • Emergency
  • Disabilities
  • Remand
  • Solo
  • Parent & Child

 

6.  How prices are agreed

Local authorities have the statutory duty to provide accommodation for the children in their care. They decide how to use the total resources available for children, parents and carers in order to improve outcomes in the most efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable way, which is detailed in the Statutory guidance on securing sufficient accommodation for looked after children.

All public procurement must be based on value for money, which is defined as “the best mix of quality and effectiveness for the least outlay over the period of use of the goods or services bought” (HM Treasury – Managing Public Money and Public Procurement Policy.

In its role as the authorised local authority’s agent, London Care Services negotiates the Contract price with each provider. The agreed price needs to be competitive and affordable to the participating authorities and, in this way, support it Best Value Duty.

London Care Services carries out negotiations via a systematic, structured and evidence based process, informed by critical discussions with providers and by the use of sophisticated tools on data analysis.

The Contract price comes into effect on 1 April of each year and is confirmed in a document called Agreed Fee Letter.

 

7.  What happens when delays occur during the Annual Review

If delays occur, placements are commissioned at the Contract price agreed in the previous year, until the negotiations are completed and a price is agreed.

If an increased price is agreed, it is applicable from 1 April, and for placements that commenced from that date onwards. As a result, the provider holds the right to backdate the invoices for those placements, in line with the terms and conditions of the Model Contract.

 

8.  If negotiations are delayed, is the member authority required to pay interest

No. The sums due for back payment of the increased price only become due at the point the new price is agreed. Therefore the backdated payment is not late and thus the member authority is not required to pay interest on it and is not covered under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013.

 

9.  What happens when a Contract price is not agreed

The ability to reach an agreement on the Contract price is crucial for completing of the process. If an agreement is not reached, the process cannot be completed and this will be confirmed in a document called de-register Letter.

 

10.  Who sets the LCS Annual Price Review

The Association of London Directors of Children’s Services (ALDCS) collectively set the London Care Services (LCS) annual price review.

 

11.  Who are the Parties to the LCS Model Contract

There are two parties;

  • The member authority commissioning the services; and
  • The provider, which is the organisation named in Schedule 1a/1b and Individual Agreement (IA) documents.

 

12.  How does the Contract document become legal and binding

Prior to making a placement, member authorities need to form a legally binding contract between themselves and the LCS approved provider.

To do this, authorities need to complete the Individual Agreement (IA) document. The IA outlines the needs of the child/young person with the provider at an agreed fee for the services purchased. The fee/s should tally with the figures on Schedule 1a/1b that is available via the secure login, unless specific commissioning requirements are needed for an individual child/young person.

In accordance to the terms and conditions of the Model Contract, only after the IA document has been completed and signed by both parties, is there a legally binding contract between the two parties.

The agreed placement types and fees is available via the LCS secure portal.

 

13.  Can a member authority use the Individual Agreement (IA) document to make a placement with a provider who is not LCS approved

No. The IA document is only to be used when making a placement with a provider that is LCS approved and has agreed contract price/s.

 

14.  Does LCS have a document for member authorities to use when they make a placement with a provider that is not LCS approved

Yes. Member authorities can use the Emergency/Interim Agreement. This agreement is valid for three months and can be extended by mutual agreement.

The document details the service/s to be provided to an individual child/young person and must be completed prior to admission and signed by both parties.

The Emergency/Interim Agreement is available when logged into the secure portal.

 

15.  Is the LCS Model Contract a contract between LCS and an approved provider?

No, the legally binding contract is between the local authority and the provider.  The legally binding contract is executed when the Individual Agreement is complete and signed by both parties.

 

16.  In the case of a business transfer, does a provider need to seek novations with LCS

No. The provider has to seek novations direct with each authority, in order to arrange for the transfer of existing contracts.  However, providers should inform LCS of any change that may affect the ownership of the contract and/or the legal entity responsible for delivering the service.

 

17.  Who is part of the LCS

LCS holds a list of approved providers that signed up to the Terms and Conditions of the Contract. The list of approved providers is operated by way of an open system (no opening or closing date) and it runs under a fair and formal process, providing opportunity for other providers to join.

The criteria for a provider to be part of the Model Contract have been set collectively by ALDCS. To be approved, the provider must:

  • Be registered with Ofsted
  • Be rated “Outstanding”, “Good” or “Requires Improvement to be Good”* at the most recent full Ofsted inspection
  • Be located in England, as long as it provides a service that our member authorities have indicated they have an interest in using
  • Offer a competitive and affordable price for London
  • Pass extensive quality checks in areas such as financial stability and insurance

The current list of LCS approved providers is available by visiting the 'About Us' page

*At point of entry, providers rated "Requires Improvement to be Good" with an interim inspection showing ‘declined in effectiveness’ will not be considered

 

18.  Which Local Authorities use the LCS Model Contract

Currently there are 32 participating authorities: 

  • 28 London Boroughs
  • The City of London
  • Three partner authorities - Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes

 

19.  Do Local Authorities have the right to form regional commissioning arrangements

Yes. Local authorities can work together to commission services for looked after children (Statutory guidance on securing sufficient accommodation for looked after children Chapter 4)

 

20.  What is the difference between LCS and other commissioning arrangements

LCS is a regional collaborative arrangement between London and three neighbouring Counties for the commissioning of residential and fostering services, aiming at managing the market and having a positive impact on commissioning.  It provides a moderated spot purchase option with pre-negotiated prices and a contract to use when making placements with LCS approved providers / services.

Some boroughs and sub-regions in London have their own commissioning arrangements in place in addition to being members of LCS.

 

21.  Is the LCS Model Contract a Dynamic Purchase System (DPS)

No. A DPS is a procurement tool similar to an electronic framework. Consequently, the Model Contract is not a DPS because it does not operate via an e-tendering system.

 

22.  Is the LCS Model Contract copyright

Yes, the contract is copyright of LCS - London Councils and must not be reproduced without express written permission.  A non-member authority will need to be granted a licence from London Councils to use the contract document, which in practice means becoming an LCS member authority.

 

23.  How do member authorities find out about services available through LCS

Information on residential and fostering services available through LCS can be found via the secure LCS portal.

Once logged in, member authorities are able to:

  • View information on;
    • LCS approved providers and agreed contract prices
    • Contract documentation and how to use the contract
    • Contacts for colleagues in member authorities
  • Search for placements and/or details on a specific provider
  • Make contact with a provider/s

 

24.  Does the LCS Model Contract cover emergency placements

Yes. If a provider offers emergency placements, the service and price will be listed on Schedule 1a/1b, the fees tab and fees letter.