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Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Overview

Market Context

Adult Social Care (ASC) Transport is for people aged 18 or over, who have been assessed under the Care Act 2014, as eligible for support, specifically where it is established that there is an unmet need that can be met by solutions that rely on the adult having access to transport.  Transport Services for ASC must be tailored and appropriate to the individual’s care and support needs, taking into consideration their specific health requirements.  ASC Transport may also be considered when it is identified in a carer’s assessment that not providing transport would place an unreasonable responsibility on a carer.

ASC Transport is a service provided to people who cannot use public transport independently due to disability or health conditions and have no reasonable access to private transport.  Transport enables people to access day opportunities, respite care, leisure services, employment, and training opportunities.  It can be provided through taxis, minibuses, Council fleet cars, and volunteer drivers though direct provision by the Local Authority or sourced by people in receipt of Direct Payments.

ASC will only commission appropriate transport where it is required to meet an eligible assessed adult social care need that is being met by ASC and where no appropriate alternative transport is available.

The market is small but stable.  This is primarily due to the high entry costs of purchasing a fleet of vehicles.  We are committed to continuing to grow stable, high quality, contracted transport provision which is reasonable and proportionate for those with an identified eligible need, to regain and maintain independence.

There are approximately 638 people in receipt of ASC transport, commissioned by Essex County Council with a spend of £5.6M (2023).  Most of these people are working age adults with a Learning Disability.

ASC Transport sits under the Climate Environment & Customer Care strategy.  ASC Transport is focussed on an approach to what is appropriate and reasonable in respect of transport for those with an eligible assessed need and what produces the least impact upon the environment and the climate.  There are currently changes taking place in the strategy for day opportunities. The strategy and vision for ASC transport will need to be informed by this review of day opportunities as transport is a service that enables other meaningful activities and services to take place.  This review is due to conclude in 2025.

Figures indicate that the demand for ASC transport was in decline from 2020, primarily associated with the pandemic – however, the latest passenger numbers suggest it is starting to rise again.  Three quarters of the passengers fall within the learning disabilities client group.

The cost-of-living crisis has significantly affected Adult Social Care in England, exacerbating existing challenges faced by providers, such as struggling to pay staff wages which in turn affects recruitment and retention.

Providers of ASC transport faces a complex landscape of risks, from operational and financial challenges to be navigated whilst ensuring the wellbeing and safety of the adults who use the service.

  • Fuel price volatility directly impacts costs, affecting affordability and sustainability of service.
  • Regulatory changes relating to safety, emissions or licensing may impact operational costs and necessitate investment in vehicle upgrades and associated training.
  • Rising insurance premiums can further strain budgets.
  • The availability of qualified drivers and passenger assistants and retention of such, is crucial to avoid disruption to continuity of service and additional costs.
  • Vehicle maintenance and depreciation is another cost factor.
  • Demand variability can fluctuate dramatically and must be effectively managed to avoid underutilisation or overstretched resources.
  • Geographical nature of Essex poses challenges for providers, with some areas more isolated versus congested urban areas, impacting both journey times and associated costs in fuel and driver/personal assistant time.
  • We will work to ensure that the response, plans and money we spend on the transport we commission is reliable, appropriate, and safe, of a high quality and supports access to Day Centres, work experience, volunteering opportunities, schools, and colleges.
  • Short notice / exceptional circumstance travel procurement requirements are being developed, so that we can be assured that we are fulfilling our Statutory duties and achieving value for money.
Last updated: 21/06/2024