Councils need to go much further in merging social care functions across authority boundaries, including by slashing management posts to protect the frontline from cuts.
That was the verdict of a report today from think-tank the New Local Government Network, which said councils needed to explore “deep and long-term integration of services between neighbouring authorities” to save money.
The report follows plans to merge adults’ and children’s departments across three London boroughs by cutting top management jobs by half.
Critics say the plans by Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster will only deliver modest savings but could rob the councils of essential management capacity.
However, the New Local Government Network said the tri-borough model “provides strong evidence for the potential of shared services” in social care, and said councils needed to be more ambitious in this area.
Just 15% of councils surveyed by the think-tank were sharing social care services and just two said there was significant untapped potential for sharing in social care, despite the sector accounting for 57% of authorities’ controllable expenditure.
Savings could be made by merging management posts across authorities and through cross-border commissioning, but the report warned against cutting frontline jobs by sharing posts across council boundaries.
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