The great hive-off - new operating model planned at Worcestershire County Council (From Worcester News)
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The great hive-off - new operating model planned at Worcestershire County Council
A CONTROVERSIAL new operating model is being launched by Worcestershire County Council - which will see almost all services farmed out to new providers.
Under the blueprint, revealed today by your Worcester News, only social care for adults and children, health and a range of business or environmental functions would remain in-house.
For well over a year the council, which is facing unprecedented financial pressures, has talked about following a "commissioning model" by hiving off departments to outside bodies.
A new diagram, which is a draft one and subject to change, finally shows just how far the council could be prepared to push it to make changes.
Under the proposals three areas would be kept in-house:
- Services for adults and health, including social work
- Children's services, encompassing adoption, fostering and safeguarding
- The Business, Environment and Community Service function (known as BEC), including help for the economy, roads, regulation and asset management
Everything underneath that trio of areas faces being handed over, with the private sector, voluntary groups, and partnerships with other councils looked upon as possible options for the future.
The model still needs to be endorsed by the council's Conservative leadership, and its success would depend on finding appropriate providers for the other functions.
It comes as the council needs to save around £99 million by 2019, a record tally, mainly due to demographic pressures and dwindling Government funding.
It has already been questioned by some councillors, who say the final plan needs a thorough debate.
Councillor Richard Udall, chairman of the opposition Labour group, said: "The role of elected members is going to be critical as we move forward with this.
"The whole process we could have to follow is likely to be very different to how it's been in the past, there's likely to be an element of resistance to this, not just politically but but due to the fear of the unknown."
Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "This all comes down to political priorities - one thing we are not doing is putting signs up saying 'we're closed'.
"This is a large organisation which does a lot of things, we've responded to the austerity and the economy, but we've got to go further to adapt for the future based around our priorities."
Councillor Andy Roberts, a fellow Conservative, said it would require a "culture change" from politicians.
"The council is changing, services will be delivered in different ways for the better," he said.
"Maybe there's too many councillors."
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