Adult social workers in Swindon could be transferred to a new social enterprise under plans being considered by the council and primary care trust.
Swindon Council has become the first organisation to consider launching a social enterprise to handle all adult health and social care services with its local primary care trust (PCT).
The new organisation would handle care management and assessment as well as providing services.
Ted Wilson, joint director of service delivery at the council and PCT, said: “The staff will primarily come over with me in a social enterprise model but commissioners of the services would hold the budget and would remain with the council.”
The council’s current budget for adult care services, including care management, is £16m, which would be transferred to the social enterprise as its contribution to a total budget of £38m.
Councillors will decide tonight whether to give the plans the green light. The changes, if approved, would be implemented from April 2011.
Swindon’s plans follow similar proposals considered by Blackburn with Darwen Council earlier this year. Blackburn had planned to outsource all its care services provision to a social enterprise but keep care management within the council. But the plans were dropped in the face of union opposition.
Blackburn found there were legal barriers to outsourcing care management. However, Wilson said this was not the case and it could be outsourced, although a full business case was still in development.
Earlier this month Suffolk announced plans to outsource all its services to cut costs. The plans are expected to be subject to fervent protests as Unions warn jobs thousands of will be lost.
However, Swindon is the first to do this alongside its local PCT. Wilson said he expected the social enterprise to contribute towards the council meeting its savings targets.
Swindon has had an integrated approach to adult social care and health for several years and established a joint commissioning agreement in 2008. In a report to councillors, officials credited this approach with delivering improvements in services.
Although the creation of a social enterprise has been named as officials’ preferred option, councillors will also consider operating services at arms length within the local authority, an integrated model with GPs or integrating with local hospitals.
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