The Challenge

As the largest local authority in Europe, Birmingham Children’s Trust (BCT), previously Birmingham City Council, had a large volume of staffing requirements and a number of key targets to achieve, to ensure care was to be delivered to the correct standards within the region. Key deliverables that BCT wanted to address were high vacancy rates, a lack of quality candidates and challenging and diluted relationships.


The Solution

Following a tender process, HCL were awarded the Master Vend contract to provide a staffing solution for children’s social work services in September 2015. HCL set out to deliver a new and innovative managed service, with an aim to deliver quality agency staff and projected cost savings.

Within six weeks of initial award, HCL had fully integrated the Master Vendor with configured technology and specialist teams. HCL managed the implementation of the contract capturing all processes and introducing a new technology system.

During the implementation phase, HCL engaged with a Trust approved supply chain that is regularly audited for compliance, quality and governance. HCL also worked closely with the Trust to promote them as an employer of choice, producing marketing campaigns and supporting the Trust’s permanent recruitment initiatives.

As a specialist provider of children’s social workers, HCL were fully equipped to support the Trust meeting service transfer deadlines and ensure there were no reductions in service performance.


The Results

Throughout the project with BCT, HCL have understood the importance of balance between fulfilment, quality and cost saving, to ensure a sustainable service is provided and the best care is provided to the children in the region.

In line with Trust requirements, HCL have worked to maintain fill rates of 95% and above, with 70% provided by Tier 1 and 15% by Tier 2 agencies. HCL have also worked closely with the Trust to promote them as an employer of choice and have provided 40 candidates into substantive employment via temp to perm
placements at no cost to the Trust.

HCL’s account management, reporting and supply chain management enabled the Trust to reduce agency staff by 50%.

The most recent Ofsted report noted significant improvements in staffing within the service, which has been supported by the continuity of volume placements and retention rates (average of 80%) maintained by HCL. Further improvements have been made by the technology support that HCL has provided, which has reduced the administrative workloads of managers. Following the end of the contract period in September 2019, BCT re-tendered for the same service provision and HCL were successfully re-awarded, following the procurement process.

The volume recruitment project has been crucial to our ability to make significant progress to improve staff morale and reduce average caseload. HCL have been an exemplary partner to the Council. In order to meet the needs of the service, they have been highly flexible.

  • Vince Clark, Interim Service Director of Birmingham’s Children’s Services Department.