Concerns over outsourcing care to help those with disabilities

  • Concern has been sparked among staff and families in regards to the possible outsourcing of a pioneering all-age disability social work service.

    Independent Futures, which Staffordshire council is in the process of setting up, is aimed to provide assessments and brokerage for people of all ages with learning disabilities or autism and those under 18 with a physical or sensory impairment. The service has been designed to provide disabled people with more seamless care via the allocation of a single key worker to people and their families. The worker will work with a person with lifelong conditions from childhood through to adulthood. It is also believed that Independent Futures will help to promote independence for disabled people, reduce bureaucracy and avoid crisis management through the provision of lifelong support planning. It is also designed to improve support to people do not meet eligibility criteria.

    It is initially being launched as an in-house service the councils is currently considering whether it should be outsourced in the future, either as a new social enterprise run in part by staff and services users or through a sale to a private company. There will be a consultation launched later in the year on how the service should be developed.

    Unison's Staffordshire council branch have said that it backs the aims of Independent Futures but are concerned about the consequences of the service being externalised.

    "Our members believe in the overriding principles of Independent Futures, the provision of quality, consistent social care as part of an all-age service, without the traditional split of adults'/children's services, however members remain concerned at the overhanging threat of potential externalisation at some future point, which could mean social care being provided from a number of routes which would not be directly accountable to the community," said branch secretary Steve Elsey.

    It is feared that externalisation will weaken the accountability of the service to local residents and a social enterprise would struggle to manage the administrative and staffing costs of the service more cheaply than the council, which could benefit from economies of scale.  

    In plans published earlier this year for Independent Futures it was claimed that possible benefits of externalising the service included a more entrepreneurial approach, access to commercial opportunities and funding streams not open to the council as well as increased efficiency and flexibility in operations. However the council have stressed that no decisions had been taken.

    "Independent Futures Staffordshire was set up as a limited company by Staffordshire County Council last year purely as a precautionary measure to ensure that the name and company structure would be in place should it be decided that Independent Futures will be run as a stand-alone service," said Robbie Marshall, cabinet member for health and wellbeing. "Incorporating a limited company is a simple procedure that takes very little time and is simply part of good planning for every eventuality. No decision has been made as to how Independent Futures will be run or indeed whether it will be run externally or in-house. As a result, the company is currently dormant."

    He added: "Ultimately Independent Futures is about improving outcomes for people with disabilities across Staffordshire and we will develop the very best solution to achieve that aim."

    It is predicted that Independent Futures will have around 190 full-time equivalent staff, 84 of whom will be key workers and 57 social workers and is currently in the process of recruiting staff. It will be initially set up in Newcastle before being rolled out across the country.

    Image source:

Related articles

  • Read More

    Young people with learning disabilities more likely to be abused

    A group of children’s charities have said that young people with disabilities have the “same vulnerabilities” as all young people but face extra “barriers” to getting protection or support,...

  • Read More

    Success for a disability sport programme

    The programme ran for three weeks and included multi-sport camps at Aberdeen Sports Village, reports the Mearns Leader. Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee...

  • Read More

    Hartlepool to open a disability centre

    Work has begun on the Hartlepool Borough Council project which aims to provide the Centre for Independent Living on the site of the current Havelock Centre in Burbank, reports The Hartlepool Mail.It...

  • Read More

    Reform for care of adults with learning disabilities criticised for being slow

    Following the care home abuse scandal at Winterbourne, Sir Stephen Bubb headed a review into care home abuse, which was published in November, reports the BBC.England's chief nursing officer said...

  • Read More

    Campaigners warn that people with disabilities are losing rights due to government cuts

    Charities are concerned that the rights of people with learning disabilities to live independent lives are slipping due to government cuts to benefits and social care, reports the Guardian. A letter...

  • Read More

    Concern over disability benefits following council change

    On the 30th of June a £500m Independent Living Fund will be in the control of local authorities, leaving people fearing how the benefit allowance for disabled adults will be affected, reports the...

  • Read More

    Victims of disability hate crime are being let down

    Police, prosecutors and probations services have failed to bring in need change over the past two years, a report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate has found, reports the BBC.The CPS, police and...

  • Read More

    New initiative to support young people with disabilities

    Liberty Staffordshire Community Interest Company have been developed to maximise opportunities for young people due to growing concern they could be left isolated following the withdrawal of...

  • Read More

    How technology is helping people with disabilities

    At the exhibit people presented all-terrain wheelchairs, adapted smartphone for people whose fingers can't cope with normal devices, wheelchairs that allow the user to become level with the people...

  • Read More

    Charities call for action on accessible housing

    Leonard Cheshire Disability charity has told The Yorkshire Post that the lack of housing which is accessible for people with disabilities must become and election issue and is calling for the...

Exempt Accommodation, Welfare Reform and Vulnerable Tenants Another excellent session from Support Solutions - excellent value for money and excellent training D.A - St Vincent's Housing Association


Briefing Signup