Permanent Recruitment: how the framework works

Launched in March, Crown Commercial Services new Permanent Recruitment Framework RM6229 lets all NHS organisations with access to recruitment agencies hire permanent, fixed term and internal secondment roles. It replaces the current framework, which expires on 12 November 2022, and provides a way to hire clinical roles through the general recruitment service

CCS’s new Permanent Recruitment framework provides access to individual candidate placements for clinical and non-clinical roles, as well as access to all services in a modular format if required. Core modules include Search, Evaluation & Appointment while non-core modules are available for Strategy & Planning, Talent Development and Technology Services.

Regional suppliers
Suppliers are not required to be able to provide on a national basis but shall be able to provide recruitment services in locations in and outside of London & The South East, where civil service and wider public servants are located throughout the UK, not restricted to large cities, and adapting to changing locations for Public Bodies.

The framework is divided into two lots - Lot 1, for Clinical General Recruitment, lists 52 suppliers while Lot 2 focuses on non-clinical general recruitment, and lists 119 suppliers. Services under Lot 1 and 2 are deemed as Core Modular or Non Core Modular. Suppliers must provide Core Modular Services if requested by the customer but can indicate whether they are able to provide non-core modular services at framework tender.
Most NHS Authorities and Trusts have dedicated internal resourcing teams that run all general recruitment in-house where possible and will utilise external agencies on more complex and niche requirements. Whilst it is anticipated that most clinical roles requested under Lot 1 of the Agreement will come from NHS organisations, with pay and grading aligned to those suggested below, any public sector hirer of clinical and social care staff may access the agreement and therefore placements may be made in accordance with any applicable pay and grading system of the hiring organisation.

Framework prices are those submitted by suppliers during their framework tender.  These are based on the salary bandings. Under all call-off contracts, suppliers must not apply any charges above these framework prices to their call-off contracts, and must use these framework prices in calculating the costs of a direct award. However, it is possible to agree other fee structures and suppliers are able to apply rates lower than their framework prices during further competitions.

All suppliers must comply with a range of standards. For instance, ISO 9001Quality Management Systems, or equivalent, are required to be in place, as is ISO 22313:2020 Business Continuity. All framework suppliers will hold a Cyber Essentials certificate or equivalent (e.g. ISO 27001) and where customers require Cyber Essentials Plus certification in line with the services set out in the specification, this must be evidenced before services commence. Professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance are all required as a minimum.

Further competition/direct award
There are two ways in which you can instruct a supplier to act under this framework - a further competition, or a direct award. A further competition is when you invite two or more suppliers to bid for your requirement. You will ask these suppliers a number of questions and ask for a price for their services. This is your ‘award criteria’. You will then award a call-off contract to the supplier(s) who best meets your award criteria.

A further competition is when you invite two or more suppliers to bid for your requirement. You will ask these suppliers a number of questions and ask for a price for their services. This is your award criteria, which should be in line with the award criteria for this framework. You will then award a call-off contract to the supplier(s) who best meet your award criteria.

During a further competition, suppliers may be able to offer discounted rates than those provided in their framework prices.

A successful further competition does not need to be complicated, or take a long time, but will take some planning and consideration.

Supplier engagement
Early engagement with suppliers before issuing tender documents can help suppliers better understand your needs, whilst helping you develop a more focused specification. This could lead to a more efficient tendering process and has the potential to increase supplier interest, attract innovative solutions and reduce potential clarifications. If sharing sensitive information, you may want the suppliers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

You need to ensure that you retain control of your requirements and that they are not dictated by suppliers or provide an unfair advantage to one particular supplier.

Capability Matrix
There are a number of ways available to help you identify the right supplier(s) for your requirements.The Supplier Capability Matrix is a table that identifies which supplier is able to offer each of the core/non-core modules for the professions and regions you wish to recruit to. Currently available as a spreadsheet, an interactive tool is in development and is expected to be available to download from the CCS website in July.

Each supplier has developed an up to date prospectus setting out information on their organisation and details of their experience and expertise in relation to each specialism they provide. Prospectuses should be used to select suppliers for direct awards and can be used to invite suppliers to EOIs and further competitions.

Expression of Interest (EoI)
EoIs can be very useful at shortlisting suppliers to invite to a further competition, understanding supplier’s capacity and capability restrictions and also gauging any potential conflicts of interest. Following an EoI, you are able to invite suppliers to attend a conference call. During this call you can share further details of your requirement with suppliers. During this call suppliers will have the opportunity to ask questions based on your requirements.

Call-off duration
Call-off contracts can be of any duration, providing they expire/conclude no later than four years following the framework’s expiry date. Where the duration of the services is to coincide with the end of a project instead of a specific date, you should provide an indicative only date to suppliers, for planning and reporting purposes.

Developing your award criteria
Your award criteria set out how you intend to evaluate the tender submission of each supplier or select a supplier for a direct award. You will need to clearly outline your intended award criteria in your tender documentation so that suppliers understand how their tender will be evaluated before submitting a bid. You should award your call-off contracts on the basis of most economically advantageous tender (MEAT).

For each direct award and further competition call, you will need to apply the following award criteria: Price - a minimum of 10 per cent and maximum of 90 per cent of total available evaluation scores (relative weighting percentage), and Quality - a minimum of 10 per cent and a maximum of 90 per cent of total available evaluation scores.

Direct award criteria
When evaluating price in your direct award procedures, you may consider framework prices and the likely time it may take a supplier to undertake the work. When evaluating Quality, you should include an assessment based on the relevant sections of the prospectus such as overview, social value and applicable specialisms.

Further competition award criteria
When evaluating price in your further competition procedures you may consider life cycle costs, cost effectiveness and price, and price and running costs. When evaluating quality in your further competition procedures you should concentrate your questioning on those areas which differentiate between
each supplier.  

Social value
Regardless of which call-off procedure you use, you will need to consider the inclusion of Social Value, which is defined through the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013. This requires all public sector organisations and their suppliers to look beyond the financial cost of a contract to consider how the services they commission and procure can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area.

The key social value priorities set out in this framework are effective stewardship of the environment; tackle workforce inequality and improve diversity; and improve health and wellbeing. Each supplier has committed to delivering against these policy outcomes in each call-off contract under this framework, and has provided information on their social value commitments in their prospectuses.

Proportionate commitments
Ask suppliers to outline what they are willing to commit to in the delivery of your social value priorities during your evaluation. You should consider what would be an appropriate and proportionate commitment from them whilst fulfilling your requirements. This commitment will form part of your call-off contract. However, when you decide to evaluate social value, you should ensure that this is proportionate to the value of your contract and your individual requirements.

About CCS
The Crown Commercial Service commercial agreements use competition among suppliers to increase quality and value. In 2019/20, CCS helped more than 18,000 customers achieve commercial benefits totalling over £1 billion of public money by using its framework agreements.