Unitary Debate: Labour Concerns about Adult Social Care and Children’s Services

Leigh Redman leads the fight for Childrens Services & Adult Social Care

Sedgemoor Labour Group is keen to engage with the new Stronger Somerset bid for two smaller Unitary authorities in the county as an alternative to the overlarge and remote ‘One Somerset’ colossus proposed by the County Tories. However, they say that serious questions need asking before they can support the case 100%.   Cllr Leigh Redman (Labour Bridgwater Hamp) is Chair of the Children & Families Scrutiny committee on the County Council and believes the weak spot is the delivery of Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.

Accountable, Fair, Open , Transparent and Fit for Purpose

Cllr Redman asks “Children’s services must be accountable, fair, open, transparent and fit for purpose. It is important that we consider the impacts on those people we are responsible for, and include this in both submissions, with the uncertainty this process will create. The proposal from the Stronger Somerset team includes an over-arching Children’s trust, this is, in effect outsourcing our children’s services. So questions we should be asking now, include: How will the transition be managed from existing services to the new model? How do the impacted councils continue to exercise their statutory duties? How are we going to incorporate service users in the process? Voice of the child? Who & how will they (in Councils) be accountable for service provision during the transition process? As well as potential benefits this process will have risks, how are these being catalogued, assessed and how they will be mitigated? Key issues of local inequality and diversity will be articulated by the JSNA, how will these be communicated across all councils to ensure needs are being considered and met during the transition? Where will Education fit in whatever the future brings?”

Cllr Hilary Bruce (Bridgwater Fairfax)  “Need to meet standards of transparency, compliance and profit capping”

Greater Public Provision will Increase Local Accountability

Cllr Hilary Bruce (Bridgwater Fairfax) represents another urban ward with considerable deprivation indices and asks “Local authorities are best placed to put people before profit, protect care staff, and ensure services are accountable to local people. How will it be held to account? How will service users be involved in formulating the standing orders for commissioning? Increase local authority capacity to deliver care so that after years of cuts to council budgets, we are able to rebuild a sustainable care service. Central to this will be care staff employed by local authorities, with the pay, working conditions and training to provide high quality care. Accountability to shareholders rather than those who use services has led to the pursuit of high profit margins and savings to pay shareholders. A move to greater public provision will increase local accountability for care and ensure that services are delivered in the public interest. Ensure that care providers work for people, not for profit. Focus on the ethical commissioning of care and a commitment to ensure that all providers meet ethical standards of care will mean that care providers meet standards of transparency, compliance and profit capping.”

Kathy Pearce Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor Labour Group

Retain in-house Services to protect the Most Vulnerable

Cllr Kathy Pearce (Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor Labour Group) said “Whilst we support the Stronger Somerset proposal in principle, we have concerns over accountability and management of proposals to form a Children’s Trust to run Children’s Services. We do not agree with the outsourcing of Children’s Services to a Children’s Trust and believe that we need to retain in-house services in order to protect the most vulnerable children in society.”

Click HERE for the Bridgwater position

Click HERE for Labours views on Stronger Somerset

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Eva Bryczkowski
Eva Bryczkowski
3 years ago

Clear, cogent and absolutely necessary questions from Labour councillors about transparency and what is best for children and families.
Sadly, I very much doubt that the Tories on SCC will heed such clear and evidence-based information.
Up and down the country the results of outsourcing in-house services, in the vast majority of cases, have been disastrous, both in terms of quality of services and value for money.
They haven’t learned from this one not.
I very much hope that I am totally wrong on this.
Leigh Redman’s points are excellent and lead the way forward for a possible win-win solution.

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