Contracting out: the threat to smaller providers

The contracting out of services is likely to continue apace with councils under pressure to make savings.

At least there is growing evidence that it works, particularly in learning disabilities and mental health. This week an analysis of social care costs shows that outsourced providers can be significantly cheaper.

But commissioners shouldn’t lose sight of smaller providers. Research suggests that many small groups are struggling to adapt to the mainstreaming of the Children’s Fund and secure their future.

Councils need to support smaller, community-based providers, clarifying their role through the joint strategic needs assessment and strengthening the compact with the voluntary sector locally.

Otherwise some of the best local services – most in tune with the personalisation agenda – will be lost.

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Mike Broad

This article appeared in the 14 February issue under the headline “Commissioners beware”

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