Borders councillors agree to scrap arm’s-length care company

SB Cares' headquarters at Newtown.
SB Cares' headquarters at Newtown.

Plans to scrap Scottish Borders Council’s arm’s-length care company, SB Cares, and takes its services back in-house were approved at a full meeting of the authority today, September 26.

That move comes four years after the company, with a staff of 850-plus and an annual budget of £17m, was set up at a cost of £1.8m after councillors were told by an external consultant, West Midlands-based Care and Health Solutions, that retaining its services in-house was not a viable option.

Speaking after the decision to end its short but troubled existence, culminating in managerial staff being suspended pending an internal inquiry and the latest in a series of critical inspection reports, was taken behind closed doors, council chief executive Tracey Logan said: “We are continuing to make it absolutely clear that the plans that were approved today will have no detrimental impact on the care delivered by the outstanding SB Cares staff.

“All clients will still receive first-class service from the same staff. This is purely an organisational change, and we have written to all clients and staff to reassure them of that.

“There are challenges facing the care sector right across the country, but we feel there are still opportunities to further improve our services and facilities here in the Scottish Borders.

“While SB Cares has achieved much, including a net financial benefit to the council of almost £3.7m, the changing environment, such as integration, means the time is right to bring it back in.

“A five-year review was always planned and, alongside our with audit preparations, we undertook a comprehensive review which led to our recommendations.”

SB Cares, based at the council’s Newtown headquarters, is now scheduled to be wound up at the beginning of December.