Council takes adult social care services back in house after viability concerns

Northamptonshire council to reabsorb adult social care services run by Olympus Care Services after auditors' warning

Olympus Care Services provides adult social care services

Northamptonshire county council is bringing adult social care services back in-house following concerns about the financial health of the company it moved them into five years ago.

The move will see all of Olympus Care Services’ 1,100 employees and services transferred into the council. Services run by Olympus include dementia care, residential homes, short breaks and support for younger adults.

Northamptonshire’s cabinet agreed the move on Tuesday (16 January) after being advised that auditors had raised concerns about the council-owned company’s lack of reserves and ability to continue as a ‘going concern’ in 2018/19.

In a report to the cabinet Anna Earnshaw, the director of Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, said “it is clear that Olympus Care Services is no longer a viable going concern from a financial perspective” despite continually delivering on its growth and income objectives.

Budget pressures

Olympus Care Services, which supports with around 2,000 people in Northamptonshire, was founded in April 2012 to save money and enable more innovation in adult social care services.

During its first three years in business the company turned a profit but in 2015/16 it recorded a £3.06m loss. Olympus’s most recent accounts, for the 2016/17 financial year, show a loss of £943,000.

Councillor Lizzy Bowen, the cabinet member for adult social care in Northamptonshire, said the decision was also driven by the council’s wider budget pressures, which mean it needs to find £34m of savings for 2018/19.

“We were also asked, following the recent Local Government Association peer review of the council’s plans and finances, to look again at all the council’s separate vehicles for the delivery of services and whether they deliver value for money for the council. Olympus was one of these,” she added.

Customer-centred

Bowen said the council will continue to use the Olympus Care Services brand and that taking services and staff back in-house will reduce the cost of running services through the company.

“It will also mean Olympus teams will work more and more alongside care management staff to ensure we deliver the right care, get the right outcomes and at the right cost,” she added.

“This is not a reflection of the success of Olympus Care Services. For the past five years it has been innovative, inclusive and definitely customer-centred and we don’t want to lose any of that.”

Inspections

The Care Quality Commission has rated all of the Olympus services it has inspected as good with the exception of the Southfields House residential care home in Northampton, which requires improvement, and the outstanding-rated Shared Lives Service.

The transfer could take place as early as April 2018 although legal and financial paperwork could delay this. All staff are to be transferred to the council’s new directorate of adults, community and wellbeing services under their existing terms and conditions.

11 Responses to Council takes adult social care services back in house after viability concerns

  1. Katie Politico January 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

    More proof that public services can only be run publicly.

  2. Toyin Adenugba January 18, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

    Good to see that in-sourcing is taking over out-sourcing. Councils have to maintain the responsibilities that are prescribed them by law and stop the habit of ‘pass the buck’ that has been the case over the years.

  3. GERALD January 18, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

    What a fiasco, £4 million pounds thrown away and their answer is to go back “in house” surely this is the same people involved ,isn’t it. It’s a Game of Mirrors and deceit , when will they understand they cannot run a business or an organisation without having a bottomless chest of money ( called rate payers). It is about time the people of Northamptonshire and other Councils run in this manner were made aware of this waste of money ( The Media in general seems very quite lately)

  4. Alison Edwards January 20, 2018 at 2:14 pm #

    About time. They should have never outsourced services.

  5. Lesley W January 23, 2018 at 9:36 am #

    This situation seems to be reflected all across the country, you cannot provide these services on the cheap. Care should not be a profit making business.

  6. karanuts January 23, 2018 at 11:37 am #

    More evidence that those that manage contracts and budgets are not lawyers or accountants. Making in-house decisions only leaves the tax payers with more burden and deprives those in need without services.

    Those who made the initial decision to roll-out contracts should no longer be paid at councils expense or the tax payer.

    This is a question of transparency and accountability.

  7. Mellow January 24, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    They talk about Olympus Care as if they were not part of the local authority but they were. Olympus was set up by NCC and staff in the local council offices were tupe across to the service. It’s a crazy world we live in when councils are allowed to do this on the pretence that they will save money.
    I have to wonder if the staff they will require will be located in the white elephant building they spent Millions of pounds on but is 3 parts empty; and they claim to be short of money!

  8. Rita January 24, 2018 at 6:50 pm #

    The decision to out-source provider services was a political one. Those who made decisions to out-source or “right-source” are the councillors voted in by the local electorate. Criticism should be directed to the county councillors and not County Council and Olympus Care employees who are simply following their employer’s instructions. Good quality social care should be provided to all those who need it and appropriately funded by central and local government.

    • Holly January 27, 2018 at 7:31 pm #

      You are absolutely right Rita.

  9. P O January 26, 2018 at 9:47 pm #

    Even the councils can’t make their own rates work. Moving it back in house will just mean the losses are hidden and costs are much higher.

    • Graham January 30, 2018 at 10:37 am #

      Losses?? how do you make a profit on social care? The costs need to be higher because adequate care could not be provided by Olympus on what the council were prepared to pay (see Carillion).