Oldham Council said a £17.3m budget deficit was behind its decision to merge children’s and adult services into a new department, to be led by a single director.
Its decision, announced just before Christmas, comes despite a recent warning from the Department for Children, Schools and Families that the appointment of joint directors should be avoided “without very strong justification”.
The people, communities and society directorate will be launched on 1 April, with the council’s executive director for adult and community services, Veronica Jackson (right), at the helm.
The authority also plans to cut 544 management posts across the council in a bid to reduce costs. A spokesperson said it was too early to say how many redundancies might be made among social care managers.
Despite the extensive remit of the new directorate – Jackson will also oversee sport, libraries, public health and neighbourhoods – lead children’s services member Kay Knox insisted that a joined-up approach would deliver “excellent services” focused on the needs of all residents.
She pointed out that Oldham was part of an “increasing trend” to appoint joint directors, joining about a dozen of England’s 150 authorities.
A report last October by the Improvement and Development Agency found existing joint directors reported reduced bureaucracy and a more family-centred approach, though faced significant workloads.
Oldham council received the highest three-star rating for adult social care services in 2008. An annual performance assessment last year judged its children’s services as “adequate”.