Council set to explore in-house care options

Councillors are expected to agree to a business case being put together to look at moving all adult social care services to an arms-length organisation.

An initial report has stated that the creation of a council-run external body, and associated transfer of staff, could enable SBC to keep control over the services provided but also make savings and ensure the quality of services are maintained.

Five options were assessed, with two providing sustainability, control and savings for the council – the creation of a local authority trading company or a limited liability partnership.

These options will put before councillors at a meeting today (Thursday).

This week Tracey Logan, SBC chief executive, said: “It is a big, important move, if we go down that route.”

In her report to councillors, Elaine Torrance, programme director for health and social care integration, states: “Doing nothing is not an option.”

A consultant’s report into the various options available states that continuing with an in-house service is not viable in the medium to long term.

It adds: “The social work department have undertaken a number of reviews over the past two years to ensure greater flexibility and reduce costs.

“These have had some limited success but the scale of savings required cannot be generated using the existing delivery mechanism.

“As the Government follows its ambitions to increase the number of direct payment service users, the council will ultimately bear the cost of both running a service and paying out direct payments which service users may not be prepared to pay the high cost.

“Eventually, the need to make savings will result in a stripped-down service where quality is compromised and service user needs are unmet.”

The services to be moved into an arms-length body could include: services for the elderly, such as home care, night support and day care services; day centres for adults with learning disabilities; day centres for adults with physical disabilities, and mental health services.

The study, by Care and Health Solutions Ltd, states that a council-led external body would have a staff of around 600 and a budget of almost £17m, and would enable additional revenue to be generated and also make the services more affordable to clients.