COMPASS Corporate Partner FAQs

Contracts:

  1. What is the purpose of the new contracts?

To provide asylum and refugee support services, in accordance with government policy, beyond the current arrangements which are due to expire in 2012. These services include initial and dispersal accommodation, transport and associated support services for asylum applicants.

  1. How do the COMPASS Contracts compare to the previous Target contracts?

Under COMPASS contracts the relationship between UKBA and the provider will be a strategic partnership where the provider will manage the end-to-end delivery of the contracts while UKBA will monitor and review the delivery.  The new provider will have closer engagement with corporate partners than under the existing Target contracts.

  1. How many providers are you signing contracts with?

We have signed and awarded contracts to the three preferred bidders:

Clearel Ltd (a joint venture between Reliance STM and Clearsprings Ltd) in the Wales and London/South regions;

G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd for the Midlands and North East, Yorkshire & Humber regions;

Serco Limited (Serco Civil Government) for the Scotland & Northern Ireland and North West regions.

  1. How long are the COMPASS contracts for?

The COMPASS contracts will be awarded for 5 years with the option to extend for a further two years.

Funding/Costs:

  1. How much are COMPASS contracts worth?

This is commercially sensitive information and therefore the value of individual contracts cannot be disclosed. Due to the unpredictable nature of asylum applications an OJEU value of £1.7 billion was tendered to ensure that the size of the service offering does not exceed the advertised value.  This represents an estimate of the maximum possible value of the contract, rather than the accurate cost projection. 

  1. What are the costs of transition?

Transition cost  is reliant on a number of factors that might arise during the planning or implementation stages,  including the new providers proposed transition strategy; the involvement of current providers or their subcontractors in COMPASS procurement;  the level of moves that might need to take place; the level of UKBA involvement, just to name a few.  However, the aim of the contract is to ensure that the cost to UKBA is kept to a minimum.

  1. Who will pay the costs of moving service users?

UKBA will be invoiced by the new provider for the cost of transporting service users where a change of address is required.

  1. UK Border Agency is subject to 23% cuts, are you expecting providers to replicate these cuts?

The 23% cuts represent the reduced funding for our overall UKBA delivery and not our expectation for the COMPASS contracts.  However, we are looking for providers to deliver value for money whilst maintaining quality of service. 

Service Delivery:

  1. What arrangements do you have in place to monitor the quality of accommodation provided?

Providers will have a clearly defined set of Performance Standards to meet. Performance will be monitored and assessed regularly to ensure that they are met.  If the standards are not met then UKBA will take action to apply service credits in accordance with the agreed contractual arrangements.  

  1. How will partners raise concerns with providers & UKBA over the quality/maintenance of accommodation? 

The provider is obliged to develop close and co-operative working relationships with all key partners, including attending meetings where appropriate.  Regional Strategic Migration Partnerships are one forum that providers will attend and where issues like this can be tabled when appropriate.  The provider will also establish systems for maintaining and managing contact with service users for them to formally provide feedback, including complaints, about the service received.

  1. Will there be mechanisms so that corporate partners can be notified of serious instances of contract non-compliance?

UKBA will use its discretion and where appropriate will keep corporate partners informed.

  1. What happens if a provider fails to provide a decent standard of accommodation?

Please see response to Q9.  

  1. What are the SLAs for pick up of service users?

The provider must pick up within the time supplied by UKBA.  Where a pick up time is not supplied and the journey needs to be carried out on the same day as the order/request is made, the provider shall ensure the collection is achieved within 3 hours of the request. Where UKBA deems a collection to be time critical the provider will ensure that the task is met within a faster response time.

Transition:

  1. What is transition?

Transition is the period where we will have to transfer service users from a current accommodation provider who has not been awarded a COMPASS contract.  For some this may involve a physical change of accommodation while others might remain in their existing accommodation, but the contracted provider of that accommodation will change (novation).

  1. When will the transition process begin and end?

The majority are between June and October 2012, but some service users in public sector properties may not move until December 2012.

  1. How many service users will be affected by transition?

As at Jan 2012 approximately 22,000 service users are housed under existing contracts, of which we currently estimate that approximately 6,000 will need to move to new accommodation.

  1. Is it right to move people when they may have been in an area for several years and built a life there?

Wherever possible we want people to be able to continue living in their current property.  UKBA will continue to support service users who are entitled to support throughout transition.  We will continue to work with new providers to ensure that the number of service users that need to move is kept to a minimum.  At this stage we are not able to rule out the possibility of some moves, however, where people do have to move, we will try to keep them in the same locality.

  1. What will happen to families with children at school?

Our aim is to minimise these moves as much as possible and Regional Directors will authorise any moves that involve children.  Rules on the movement of children have been agreed with the Minister for Immigration.  UK Border Agency’s preferred approach is for moves involving children to be carried out over the summer holidays to minimise the impact of changing schools.  

  1. What affect will the transition period have on business as usual?

The transition period should not impact new cases that come into the asylum process.  

  1. What happens if current Providers will not co-operate during transition?

Current providers are contractually required to co-operate with UKBA and COMPASS providers during transition and UKBA is already working closely with them to ensure smooth transfer from one provider to another.

  1. What if service users refuse to move?

Accommodation is provided to service users on a no choice basis and any failure to comply may result in termination of support.  UKBA policy on service users who abscond or refuse to move is currently being reviewed.  

  1. What support (other than financial) will UKBA provide during Transition?

Each UKBA region will operate a telephone enquiry service during transition to handle queries from service users and their representatives.

The new providers will provide the following services during transition:

  1. What will happen to service users who are already in dispersal accommodation?

Please see Q17.

  1. What consideration has been given to the availability of appropriate wrap-around support and advice services?

The provider will provide signposting activity.  There will be a requirement for the new providers to work closely and develop relationships with the voluntary sector to deliver the necessary support services.  UKBA has also incorporated requirements such as rooms for nominated third parties into the Statement of Requirements (SoR).  Please also see Q22.

  1. When will Providers begin to relocate dispersed asylum seekers?

The existing contracts have varying end dates so the transition of service users onto COMPASS accommodation will start at different times in each region depending when existing contracts come to an end.  However, the majority of those service users who do need to move will be relocated between June and October 2012, although some service users in public sector properties may not move until December 2012.

  1. What involvement will UKBA have with relocations?

UKBA will be working with current accommodation providers to identify any special requirements that service users may have and will be sharing this information with new providers so that the most appropriate accommodation can be provided.  UKBA will oversee the current providers’ Exit Plans and new providers’ Transition Plans to ensure that the provision of services is seamless during the transition period.

  1. Why can’t service users be told at the outset whether they will be required to move?

The asylum application that they have with UKBA may have been completed and a decision served which may impact on the eligibility for asylum support.  Furthermore, until new providers have put together their portfolio of accommodation we will not know whether current accommodation remains available for continued use.

Working with Corporate Partners:

  1. Are partners ready for the transition period? 

Regional transition leads have already started to engage with corporate partners in their regions to introduce the COMPASS project and provide progress updates.  Partners have been encouraged to consider how transition will affect their organisations and UKBA will continue to work with them through mobilisation and transition to try to minimise any impact that transition to COMPASS may have on them.

  1. Which of the current voluntary sector support services are included in the COMPASS procurement?

The following services are currently within the scope of COMPASS:

Please also see Q24.

  1. What is the expected approach to Voluntary Sector organisations that operate within IA?

Please see Q24.

Dispersal:

  1. Will the number of service users dispersed to each region go up or down under the new contracts?

This is out of the scope of COMPASS.  UKBA will continue to disperse to all of its regions in line with current processes.

  1. Under COMPASS contracts, how far will UKBA continue to control and manage dispersal, and how far will this control be passed to the provider?  i.e. which functions will UKBA retain and which will be passed to the provider?

The provider will need to agree the introduction of any new properties with UKBA, however they will liaise with key local corporate partners to ensure that community cohesion and safety issues are considered.  There may be opportunities to identify new dispersal locations but UKBA and providers will work closely with local Strategic Migration Partnerships and other corporate partners who may be responsible for the development of the regional dispersal strategy.

  1. Who is going to monitor dispersal?

UKBA regions will continue to monitor and be involved in dispersal in their areas. Please see Q32..

  1. Who is going to ensure that community cohesion is maintained within the region?

Community cohesion is a joint responsibility.  UKBA will continue to work with all partners in their regions, including new providers via existing forums, including the Strategic Migration Partnerships.  We are asking the providers to develop those key relationships with partners in their regions and we expect them to be fully engaged with partners to take account of community cohesion.

  1. What will happen to the Regional Strategic Migration Partnership under COMPASS?

The Strategic Migration Partnerships are currently under review which is outside the scope of COMAPSS.

  1. How will COMPASS contracts ensure providers do not go for the cheapest areas?

The providers are encouraged to be innovative and COMPASS provides an opportunity to introduce new dispersal areas, but this must be done appropriately and not simply in the cheapest areas.  The provider will need to consult fully before introducing new dispersal accommodation (see Q32).  

  1. What will happen to Service Users with Special Requirements?

If service users have specific accommodation requirements which have previously been agreed with the UK Border Agency, these accommodation requirements will continue to be met at their new accommodation, and we will endeavour to ensure that they remain close to any specialist support services that they need.

The provider will be required to brief Services Users on how to make contact will local services including Voluntary Sector Services, other local independent advice service providers and legal advisers.

We also require the provider to make contact with the relevant medical facilities where needed.

Service User Support:

  1. What responsibilities will the provider have to support integration and prevent homelessness during the 28 days following a positive asylum decision?  

It is particularly important that relationships with local housing authorities are established so that the notification process works effectively. This is to ensure that those in receipt of a positive decision are given every opportunity to find alternative accommodation during the 28 day period following the grant of leave to remain for the transition from asylum support to mainstream provision. This process is crucial in ensuring that homelessness is avoided.  The importance of this requirement has been increased given the funding cuts for refugee integration activity. Refugees will be less able to access support from other avenues and therefore it is vital that this process is rigorously applied in all cases. Contract managers will be instructed to ensure that this performance standard is enforced.

  1. What training will the providers be providing their staff in relation to identifying specific social health issues etc?

The providers have identified what training needs they consider necessary and appropriate and this has been reviewed as part of the evaluation process.

  1. How will service user queries be handled during transition?

Each UKBA region will operate a telephone enquiry service to handle queries from service users and their representatives.

Version 1.0, February 2012