A COUNCIL-RUN service which places old and vulnerable people in the care of families across Worcestershire is facing privatisation, it has emerged.
Worcestershire County Council has revealed it wants to find an outside provider for its Shared Lives project, placing 11 jobs at risk.
The programme places vulnerable people with either families or single residents prepared to act as carers, who are paid to look after them through a personal budget.
Over the last year it has helped 102 vulnerable people avoid being placed in care homes, and operates with a budget of £200,000.
But the Conservative leadership believes as institutionalised care is becoming old-fashioned, and with an ageing population, the number of people using Shared Lives could rocket in future years.
And massive pressures on the budget means £32 million is being slashed from adult care by 2017, meaning the service could be at risk if it remains in-house.
Your Worcester News can now reveal how the hunt is being launched for a new operator, which could be a private firm.
The council says as part of any deal, the 102 vulnerable people currently in the system will remain with the same families as now and their personal budgets would not be affected.
It comes just three days after we revealed how four day care centres in Worcestershire are at risk of closure.
On Monday we reported how the authority aims to save £800,000 by finding alternative day-time venues for those attending Timberdine Nursing in Worcester, Howbury in Malvern, The Grange in Kidderminster and Smallwood Lodge in Redditch.
That moves leave 15 jobs at risk, with a decision due to be made on the closures in June 2015 once solutions can be found for all users.
Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "In Worcestershire there are already a number of external organisations providing adult care services.
"This is about us dealing with a small number of in-house services in top of that."
But it has not gone down well among the opposition Labour group at County Hall, which says it plans to campaign against it.
Councillor Richard Udall, group chairman, said: "The Conservative administration is showing a blatant disregard to those who need our help and support, this is a desperate measure to save money at the expense of some of the most vulnerable in society, frankly it stinks."