Up to 300 jobs at risk in Lincolnshire social care reshuffle

Around 285 jobs are at risk as Lincolnshire County Council is preparing to scale down its adult social care services and move them into the private sector.

Some 14 jobs at Swallow Lodge in Lincoln are under review, a short breaks facility that supports around 40 people and has maintenance costs of around £450,000 per year.

Other jobs under review are at physical disability and older people’s day services in Lincoln, North Hykeham, Boston, Horncastle, Skegness and Gainsborough.

The Lincoln and North Hykeham day care centres have 27 staff.

Staff and service users will both be invited to separate consultations in order to provide feedback and ideas on how to make the new delivery of the service as efficient and extensive as possible.

Councillor Graham Marsh, Adult Social Care and Supporting People, indicated that staff who are interested in setting up social enterprises or becoming independent traders may even get the use of the current council owned buildings.

Marsh said: “This is not about cutting costs, it is about not wrapping people in cotton wool and allowing them to make their own decisions about what services they want and us making sure they get help with their own personal needs.”

The councillor explained how rather than providing services themselves, the County Council will outsource to businesses, which should make the provision of care more efficient.

“We may no longer be a service provider but instead a service stimulator,” said Marsh.

Targets from central government state that all of the county’s 23,000 service users will need to be using the personal budget system by 2013.

At the end of the last financial year, 30 per cent of service users were using the system, which is ahead of government targets.

The future shape of care provision

Rather than being offered a range of services that users may or may not want to use, they will be given a personal allowance to spend on whatever they feel of use to them, with no change to the overall council budget.

An online directory of services is being developed to support the personalisation agenda which will be supported by existing directories and information services.

Work to provide an e-market tool is currently underway, allowing services to be purchased online using personal budgets.

To support the users of Adult Social Care services through this change, the council committed to provide individual guidance and commissioned independent brokerage to help people find, access and budget for support.

Service users will need to provide a plan of what they will spend their budget on and this will be approved before they are given the funding.

Head of Supported Housing at LCC, Ruth Cumbers, explained how service users will be audited.

She said: “The direct payment team are already in place to review how people spend their money and there will be a full audit trail involved.

“Spending plans are normally reviewed and audited annually but if people have a change in circumstances they can still contact us.”

Chief Executive of Lincolnshire County Council, Tony McArdle, supports the new framework as it offers more extensive service with a benefit for service users.

“If we are able to supply support that better suits the personal needs, lifestyles and circumstances of individuals, then surely that is good news,” said McArdle.