Assurances sought over care transfer

The voices of staff must be heard when a new arms-length organisation (ALEO) takes over adult care services from Scottish Borders Council (SBC), writes Andrew Keddie.

Thursday, 6th November 2014, 11:14 am

That is the view of Councillor Stuart Bell who last week stressed the need for the limited liability company to be properly monitored when around 1,000 full and part-time local authority employees transfer in April.

Services due to be outsourced include home care, day-care provision for the elderly and people with learning disabilities, along with the running of the council’s five residential homes.

SBC had already agreed to set up an ALEO, with an annual budget of around £17million, when it met last week to discuss implementation and issues of governance and accountability.

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A report by chief social worker Elaine Torrance recommended that the new company, although fully owned by the council, should be run by a small board comprising a managing director, finance director, operations manager and three non-executive directors. Although there would be no councillors on the board, Ms Torrance highlighted the need for strong monitoring, via a strategic governance group (SGG), comprising elected members and senior council officers.

“I recognise there is a sound argument for not having councillors on the board which must not be too big and bureaucratic,” said Mr Bell. “However, I believe councillors should form the majority on the SGG which will give this council effective oversight. They must be the voice of the community and connect with, and represent, the people being cared for. I also want a staff representative of this monitoring group, as the support of carers is vital and I want their voices heard.”

Mr Bell’s suggestions will be taken forward by a working group of councillors and officers who will oversee implementation over the next five months.