Council to commission out child protection in the biggest outsourcing ‘in a generation’

Northamptonshire County Council will retain 150 of its 4,000 staff members in a £68m budget cut

Northamptonshire council open for business. Photo: John Martinez Pavliga/ flickr

Northamptonshire County Council has approved plans to outsource all services and make £68m of cuts in what it has termed “the most fundamental transformation… in a generation”.

‘Skeleton staff’

The council will be reduced to a 150-member skeleton staff. The rest of its 4,000 staff members will be moved into four bodies set up by the council.

A Northamptonshire council spokeswoman said it was not outsourcing in the literal sense, and the council would not commission out to private companies.

Instead, it planned to set up the organisations which would take on statutory responsibility for services like child protection and elder care in a system she termed “right sourcing”.

The "Next generation model". Image: Northamptonshire County Council

The “Next generation model”. Image: Northamptonshire County Council

‘Private businesses’

However, drafts plans stated the council will “right source” through a federation of bodies which may include private businesses, out of direct council control.

These bodies, including one for child protection services, will be a mix of mutuals, social enterprises and community interest companies. They will be free to win business from other organisations.


Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “The traditional model for the council and local service delivery is unsustainable.

“The method of largely paying for local services through government grants no longer stacks up and in Northamptonshire our demand is far outstripping our income.”

Cllr Harker said: “This is all about setting these services free from direct council control. Free to find new income streams and new markets which will help not only protect these services from spending cuts but also by using this income to offset their cost to the council taxpayer.”

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4 Responses to Council to commission out child protection in the biggest outsourcing ‘in a generation’

  1. Sandy Beach February 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Scared to be a social worker at the moment, what is happening?

  2. Keith February 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    “Instead, it planned to set up the organisations which would take on statutory responsibility for services like child protection and elder care”

    If they are doing this within the law then the council will retain statutory responsibility and independent bodies will be contracted to carry out statutory functions on its behalf. It is subtle distinction but means if the independent bodies don’t do what they are supposed to do the council is still responsible for filling the gap. How they will do this with 150 staff and no market of suitable providers I don’t know, but still.

  3. Jim Greer March 2, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    At Teesside University we incorporated a strong Organizational Issues module in to our revalidated programmes. We are now looking at how we can incorporate business ethics into teaching.

    I am 52 and the world is changing more rapidly than at any time in my life. However, it has never been my attitude to look back or try to keep things as they are.

    Part of these changes being discussed here are a result of the squeeze on local Government finances. However, it is also a response to changes that are happening globally in all industries towards increased flexibility and increased specialism.
    Social workers need to engage actively in responding to change and creating a positive future for their profession.

    “A year from now you will wish you had started today” — Karen Lamb

  4. Fred March 4, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    This is neo-con economics – the new orthodoxy.

    Its Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

    Its the “everything state ruin is bad” everything “private sector run is better/cheaper/more efficient” doctrine.

    Unfortunately it’s the same line of thinking that led to mass deregulation of the financial services industry.

    The ultimate irony is that the complete failure of neo-con economic theory has led to the ever expanding gap between rich and poor, to the bankers greed and the world wide financial collapse and recession and to the unprecedented cuts in funding of child and adult protection services.

    Notts. decision to respond to the excesses of the private sector by privatizing child protection is to reward these spongers by selling them vital public services and is quite quite wrong.