Have Suffolk County Council brought back the "new strategic direction"?
|Cllr Colin Noble|
Many of the ACS staff provide adult care for some of the most vulnerable people in Suffolk.
Cllr Colin Noble, Portfolio Holder told the EADT
To maintain those services as best we can, we need to look for new ways of working and opportunities to involve other organisations in those services. We need to find the right balance between saving money and protecting services and jobs and I think we are achieving that balance.
What these figures show is that by working differently and in partnership, services can continue whilst job losses are minimised and taxpayers’ money can be saved.
|Andrea Hill and Jeremy Pembroke|
Former CEO and Leader of SCC
The New Strategic Direction was basically about moving the provision of services outside the County Council so the Council becomes a "commissioning" body rather than a direct service provider. Cllr Noble suggests that by doing this money is saved and that is clearly the intention. I can certainly appreciate the difficulty the Council finds itself in with budget cuts but increasing demands on services.
The concern is how this does save money? Given the staff have to be transferred under TUPE rules (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) which means they keep the same pay and terms and conditions it would seem this would broadly cost the same. Now there is clearly some prospect that "overheads" might be less but in the longer term as these "protected" staff leave there must be a concern that they are replaced with staff with less favourable terms and conditions.
Last year saw a number of concerns around private provision of adult care services with the BBC filming appalling abuse of patients at Winterbourne in Bristol and the collapse of Southern Cross care homes. Recently it was reported that Four Seasons care homes who are now the biggest provider in the UK is having looking for its second re-financing in three years due to a £780m debt problem. There are concerns that the provider, that took on 140 of the Southern Cross care homes might struggle to raise the money.
Interestingly, my hunch is that, once the dust settles the new leadership will embark on a path that isn't much different from the New Strategic Direction set out by Andrea Hill. It will have a different name. It will be slower, more consultative and done with less pzazz. But the essentials of it - divestment of council services, the build-up of community capability and a new role for the council as commissioner rather than provider will, over time, prevail.Looks like he was right!