Welsh Lib Dem council set to privatise adult social services

Later today, Welsh budget minister Jane Hutt will present the Assembly government’s draft budget in what amounts to the toughest fiscal environment since the birth of devolution. She will do so as it emerged that Liberal Democrat run Swansea Council is considering outsourcing its entire adult social services department by 2012 to save costs.

Later today, Welsh budget minister Jane Hutt will present the Assembly government’s draft budget in what amounts to the toughest fiscal environment since the birth of devolution. She will do so as it emerged that Liberal Democrat run Swansea Council is considering outsourcing its entire adult social services department by 2012 to save costs.

It is reported that the council has, for the last week, had a notice placed on the Sell 2 Wales website, funded by the Assembly government to enable Welsh public services and businesses to sell services.

Services that the council is looking to put out to tender include mental health, residential homes and domiciliary care. These services are estimated to be worth £20 million with 900 council staff potentially affected.

Reacting to the news, Swansea West AM and former finance minister, Labour’s Andrew Davies, said:

“The mass privatisation of adult social services has not been debated at all. What authority do the Liberal Democrats have to sell-off this essential service?

“There has been no discussion about privatising this in cabinet or the council chamber or with the unions, it is certainly not in the Liberal Democrat manifesto for Swansea, where is their mandate? Decisions made in smoke-filled rooms are no way to run a democratically elected council.”

But speaking to BBC Radio Wales, the Lib Dem cabinet member responsible for adult social service in Swansea, Nick Tregoning, explained:

“The first thing is that no decision has been taken yet. The only decision that has been taken is to actually put together a business case and have a look at it more closely. We’re interested in pursing a social enterprise model which will benefit the staff, benefit the clients and, yes, will provide better value for money.

“As part of that, we are obliged under EU rules to ensure that we have carried out due diligence and looked at every possible aspect of this. We’re not the only authority that’s going down this route.”

With Welsh local authorities expected to feel the pain of the government’s budget proposals as a result of the UK government’s spending review, it is likely that councils across Wales will increasingly look to remodelling the provision of their services and focus more heavily on outsourcing as they seek to keep costs down within tight budgets.

In September, Suffolk Council was dubbed as being “virtual” after it announced plans to outsource almost all of its services. The question facing Welsh local authorities is, will this model of service provision spread and if so, to what extent? Could all local councils become virtual in nature?

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5 Responses to “Welsh Lib Dem council set to privatise adult social services”

  1. L DTUC

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  4. Spir.Sotiropoulou

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