Decision details

Adults and Childrens Social care placements SEPT23/CMDN/31

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Legal, Finance and Corporate Services

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


The current approach, of authorising each placement by an exemption report, involves significant officer time and resource, and the responsibility for approvals sits with the Executive Director of Corporate Services and S151 Officer, which is not appropriate as they have no knowledge of the placements made so the sign off is an ineffective internal control.


This report accordingly requests that authority be delegated the Executive Director for Adult Services or their delegate (in the case of placements for adults) the Executive Director for Children's Services or their delegate (in the case of placements for children) and signed off by the relevant Head of Finance, who will assess and comment upon the financial implications and to make such directly awarded placements, on an interim basis, while work is undertaken to put in place a longer-term solution.


Reasons for the decision:

The exemption process as three stages of sign off and involves the officer writing the report, obtaining approval from finance, legal and procurement and eventually from the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and S151 Officer, and is therefore very labour intensive, involving time spent by various officers. This existing process takes time and removes responsibility and accountability away from budget holders, effectively transferring budgetary control to the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and S151 Officer. This puts an administration burden on a number of officers who have had no input to the original process of commissioning the placement. The number of exemption reports that were raised for social care placements in 2022/23 financial year was 38 which is 46% of all exemption reports. The total value of those 38 reports was £3.5m. This number of exemption reports places a large resource burden on the Council.


Approval of the recommendation, as an interim measure, will reduce the administrative burden of exemptions currently placed on officers as the Officer’s Decision Notice (ODN) to authorise each placement, is a quicker and less time intensive process and will also place responsibility and ownership on the appropriate budget holders, rather than the Executive Director of Corporate Services and S151 Officer who as no knowledge of the placement.


This will allow relevant stakeholders to explore options in relation to a longer-term solution.


Alternative options considered:

The following options were considered taking into account the associated risks and benefits:


1) Do nothing (continue with existing exemptions process for placements):

·         Procurement risk from direct awards

·         Large number of exemptions creates an administrative burden.

·         Exemption process requires sign off by various different departments with the Executive Director of Corporate Services and S151 Officer having final decision/sign off when they have not been involved with the commissioning and have no knowledge of the placement.

·         Final sign-off not with the relevant Directorate who are commissioning the placements.


2) Refer some exemptions to CFO/Director of Legal (as they can approve exemptions by stepping into any director's shoes under Part 3, Section 3 para 3.5.1 of the Constitution) – as per 1 above but with different decision maker:

·         Procurement risk from direct awards 

·         Lots of exemptions creates an administrative burden.

·         Reduces the number of departments’ sign off but as in option 1 still places final sign off on officers who have not been involved with decision.


3) An overarching Cabinet Member Decision Notice (CMDN) for all exemptions with individual Officer Decision Notices (ODNs) signed off by Director: (RECOMMENDED)

·         Procurement risk from direct awards.

·         Reduces administrative burden of existing exemption process.

·         Recorded on a Care Placement Register – compliant routes exhausted.

·         Sign-off responsibility with the appropriate Director who is commissioning the placement.

·         Temporary process whilst longer term solution is explored.


4) Change Contract Rules to separate out exemptions process for social care placements: (To explored as part of review of CPRs)

·         Procurement risk from direct awards

·         No grounds for treating these contracts differently within the CPRs and it sets a precedent. 

·         Implies Council authorises direct awards.

·         Removes scrutiny on these types of contracts.

·         Reduces officer’s admin burden of exemptions.


Our recommendation is that option 3 would be the preferable solution until a full review of the Contract Procedure Rules has been undertaken by Officers and all options for a long-term solution for placements, have been explored.



Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:

There were none.

Background Documents:

There were none.

Publication date: 07/09/2023

Date of decision: 07/09/2023

Effective from: 13/09/2023

Accompanying Documents: