Evidence supports county-wide care

    Social services look set to remain at a county level in northern
    England following a review of local government.

    The possible creation of three regional assemblies in the North has
    prompted a review of lower tiers of local government in Lancashire,
    Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland, Cheshire and North
    Yorkshire.

    The Boundary Committee for England has put forward two options for
    each: keeping the counties and giving them enhanced powers; or
    breaking each into two or three smaller unitary authorities which
    would assume county functions, including social services.

    Evidence to the committee strongly backs the first option, with the
    former Social Services Inspectorate questioning the ability of
    sub-county level authorities to deliver a full range of social
    services in Lancashire and North Yorkshire.

    Some bids for smaller unitary authorities in Lancashire tended to
    “underplay” the implications of the Children Bill, the report says.
    There were also concerns about the recruitment of specialist staff
    if North Yorkshire were split into three.

    But the committee is worried about Lancashire Council’s “weak”
    comprehensive performance assessment rating and poor social
    services.

    North Yorkshire council leader John Weighell, said only a single
    unitary authority would preserve the county’s “tremendous social
    care”.

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