One of England’s top-performing councils has announced radical plans to buck the national trend and merge its adults’ and children’s social care services as part of a council-wide cost-cutting exercise.
Surrey Council, which was awarded 4-stars and said to be improving well in this year’s comprehensive performance assessment, has proposed creating a new families’ services department to deliver social care services across the age spectrum. The change is intended to improve services for users while contributing to an anticipated saving of £139m over the next five years.
The proposal, which will now go out to local consultation before a final decision is reached in April, comes as the gap between adults’ and children’s social care services elsewhere in the country is widening as councils merge their children’s social care services with education services under the Every Child Matters agenda, and prepare for closer working arrangements between adults’ social care and health and housing services.
But defending the move, council leader Nick Skellet insisted: “This is the council’s biggest ever review and it is only by doing this that the council will be able to improve services while limiting council tax rises.”