Reablement service outsourced to council-owned company

One hundred care staff to transfer as council contracts out its reablement service to company owned by fellow local authority in first deal of its kind.

A council has outsourced its reablement service and staff to a company owned by a fellow local authority in the first deal of its kind.

West Sussex Council has handed its regaining independence support service to Essex Cares in a three-year deal worth £3m that could be extended for two years depending on performance. Occupational therapists will remain with West Sussex and carry out reablement assessments, but 100 staff will transfer to Essex Cares, retaining their existing terms and conditions, including their local authority pension.

This is the first time that a council adult social care service has been outsourced to an existing local authority trading company.

Essex Cares is fully owned by Essex Council, which set it up in 2009 to run that authority’s home care, day care, equipment and employment support services. Unlike an in-house council service, it can trade commercially, develop new services and accept business from direct payment and self-funders. It made a profit of £3.5m in 2010-11 and paid a dividend back to Essex Council as the sole shareholder, and its 2010-11 annual report announced plans to expand into running services provided by other local authorities.

Since becoming the first council social care trading company in 2009, a number of other authorities have followed in Essex’s footsteps, including Croydon and Barnet in London, and Wokingham.

West Sussex Council said it hoped that the deal would enable it to support more people to access reablement; the current service supports 2,000 people a year.

“With Essex Cares and our health colleagues we will be able to work more proactively in order to identify other customers who will benefit from this service,” said a council spokesperson.

Mithran Samuel is Community Care’s adults’ editor.

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