Wolverhampton City Council is planning to outsource its social care services to external providers in a bid to save £123m in the next five years.
A total of 25 adults’ and children’s services delivered by the council are set to be handed over to private or voluntary sector providers.
Affected services include residential homes for children and older people, learning disability day services and the mental health community inclusion team.
Labour councillor Steve Evans, the city’s cabinet member for adult services, blamed the move on reductions in central government funding.
“If Whitehall goes ahead with its intended spending plans the money provided to Wolverhampton by government will have reduced by more than half over four years,” he said.
“Therefore, like many other local authorities, we are having to look at everything we do to ensure we offer the best quality services to our customers while also providing good value for money to taxpayers.
“Engaging with one or more external partners to provide our services has been identified as the option which would have the least effect on service users and minimise the impact on employees.”
Sue Brealey, chair of Unison’s Wolverhampton branch, said the union was concerned that providers taking on the service will be expected to cut costs, which could negatively impact both staff and local communities.
“There’s a lot of concern among staff at the moment,” she said. “We have a meeting diaried to consult our members on their views as we need to know what their views are.”
Wolverhampton’s proposals also include replacing social workers with care assistants in adult assessment and care management, higher charges for service users using non-residential adult care and slashing staff mileage rates from 45p to 25p a mile from April 2015.
Brealey said that if the council went ahead with the reduced mileage rate it would have a “big impact” on social workers. “They could end up subsiding the authority for doing their work,” she said.
As many as 2,000 jobs across the local authority could be lost in the next five years under the plans.