UNITE has members in the Learning Disability Service and I have attended most of the consultation meetings.
I remain very concerned about some aspects of the commissioning of this service to some of the most vulnerable people in Somerset, by transferring service delivery to a social enterprise and that is why I appear before you today.
When I sighted a copy of the rough Risk Log last week, I was surprised to see that service failure, user harm and regulatory risks were not directly addressed. In my view, there are clear risk transfer issues which need to be explicitly addressed in the contract prior to service transfer.
I am also concerned that the Governance proposals could be flawed. They appear to rely upon Councillors, carers and service users having seats on the board of the social enterprise, which is a private limited company.
We know from the South West One experience, that Councillor Little could not sit on this Audit Committee whilst he was a Director of South West One. This is because the Companies Act requires Directors to “act in the best interest of the company at all times”. Surely, this would prevent all board members of the social enterprise from speaking out publicly should service failure, user harm or regulatory issues arise?
I have also not been able to sight the “minimum criteria” document mentioned by the Cabinet Member in order to check whether Trade Union recognition is included and whether public information access rights will be fully protected.
I respectfully request that this Audit Committee reviews the commissioning of the Learning Disabilities Service before the contract is let, to ensure that best practice has been observed and that all of the assurances being given today have been independently assessed.