SBC examines new social care service model

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Care workers currently employed by Scottish Borders Council could be transferred to a council-owned company, operating at arms-length.

Councillors are expected to agree to a business case being examined for the moving of all adult social care services to an arms-length organisation.

A report carried out by a consultancy firm states that the creation of a council-run external body, and associated transfer of staff, could enable SBC to maintain control over the services provided while also making savings and ensuring quality services are maintained. Five options were assessed, with two providing sustainability, control and savings for the council: the creation of a local authority trading company, or a limited liability partnership.

These options will put before councillors today. SBC chief executive Tracey Logan said: “It is a big, important move, if we go down that route.”

In her report to councillors, Elaine Torrance, programme director for health and social care integration, states: “Doing nothing is not an option.”

The consultant’s report into the various options available states that continuing with an in-house service is not viable in the medium to long term.

It adds: “The social work department have undertaken a number of reviews over the past two years to ensure greater flexibility and reduce costs.

“These have had some limited success but the scale of savings required cannot be generated using the existing delivery mechanism.”

Services to be moved into an arms-length body may include: services for the elderly, such as home care, night support and day care services; day centres for adults with learning disabilities; day centres for adults with physical disabilities, and mental health services.

The study, by Care and Health Solutions Ltd, says a council-led external body would have a staff of around 600 and a budget of almost £17m, and would enable additional revenue to be generated and also make the services more affordable to clients.