Councils to merge social services teams as demand rises

Two councils in Wales are to merge their social services departments to meet increasing demand.

Two councils in Wales are to merge their social services departments to meet increasing demand.

Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly will gradually integrate their support functions, followed by frontline services and management teams over the next three years. It will be the first merger of its kind in Wales.

The proposal was revealed in a report last month by Blaenau Gwent’s head of social services, Liz Majer, and was approved by Caerphilly yesterday.

Majer said the economic downturn, along with rising demand for services and increasing expectations in terms of rights to access services, had caused the council to rethink how it delivered care.

“In taking this approach, [Blaenau Gwent] would be in a stronger position to deliver better outcomes for service users as an equal partner with Caerphilly,” she said.

There has been considerable discussion in Wales about the sustainability of its 22 local authorities in light of the economic downturn and increasing pressure on services.

This merger will bring the two councils in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s 10-year plan to re-shape services through greater collaboration and integration, set out in February.

“It is becoming more recognised that greater collaboration is the way forward to improve public services in Wales and we are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative way of working,” said the leaders of Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, Des Hillman and Allan Pritchard respectively, in a joint statement.

This is the first such collaboration in Wales, although Powys and Ceredigion councils do share a director of social services.

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