SBC’s ‘Care Company’ begins to take shape

Work on transferring Scottish Borders Council’s adult care services to an arms-length ‘care company’ by April 2015 continues and councillors were given an update this week.

Having accepted that “doing nothing is not an option”, and decided to go ahead with transferring staff and services to an for an arm’s length organisation in the form of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), councillors and officers now need to work out the details.

“An LLP is something of a cross between a limited company and a partnership,” said Elaine Torrance, chief social work officer in her report to councillors.

The LLP (‘care company’) will be a legal entity with two partners - Scottish Borders Council and a shell company bought and wholly owned by SBC. It will need a board which includes a chair, managing director, finance director, operations manager and non executive directors.

Councillors can serve on the board but Audit Scotland warns that there can be potential conflicts of interest and points out that a councillor on the board of the care company won’t be able to take part in any council discussions or decisions about funding or scrutiny of the care company.

Scottish Borders Council are being recommended by council officials to have no councillors appointed to the board.

All SBC staff currently providing care for vulnerable adults across the region will be transferred to the new care company.

“As the council will continue to provide the majority of support services to the newly established care company for at least the first two years, it is not anticipated that there will be any staff redundancies within the support service functions as a consequence of establishing the LLP,” said Ms Torrance.

Human resources support will continue to be provided by the council.

Work will now continue on: drawing up support service contracts and service level agreements; the new client/provider relationship; details of how the services of the care company will be monitored; new lease agreements for buildings needed by the care company; staff transfer arrangements; board governance.

In moving towards a care company that the council will effectively have considerable say in, SBC hope to not only achieve the £5.6 million savings in social work that need to be made over the next five years but also create the opportunity to raise money - the care company able to charge for non-statutory services that they can provide, services the council cannot provide.

Demand for social care in the over 65s in the Borders is expected to increase by 11 per cent in the next five years, creating a market for services the care company can provide.