Last week we had the Chilcott report on the 2nd Iraq War.
How is that relevant to the Learning Disabilities Service?
This Conservative administration runs Somerset as a “Commissioning Council”, which now appears to me, to be a policy designed to privatise as many public services as possible.
Does this produce a culture amongst Senior Officers that “Commissioning” really means “Private Good” and “Public Bad”? I think that it does.
Chilcott reported that there was a lack of challenge in the decision making that then led to disastrous outcomes. I believe that is the case here too.
The Council started out by over-turning a free vote by those in the care of the Council, their parents and carers for this vital service to stay in-house. A second vote was arranged with targeted advocacy to get “the right answer”.
Can you imagine the uproar if we held another EU referendum just because those in power didn’t like the results of the first vote?
We can’t check the secret Business Case for impartiality even though this is said to be Not for Profit and a Social Enterprise.
How can we tell if the financial case for outsourcing is genuinely made?
How do we know whether risky savings and benefits assumptions have been made, as they were for the failed Southwest One contract with IBM?
I do not see the rigour in the published Risk Assessments to safely outsource this care service for vulnerable people.
The aspirations are laudable but why doesn’t this Council have the leadership and management capable of taking the in-house service forward.
If you can’t lead and manage the in-house service under your direct control, then how will you safely manage a contractor providing this complex care service to vulnerable people?
The robust challenge necessary for a good outcome needs an unbiased comparison with a competing in-house service bid which incorporates innovation and improvement.
We then need an Open Business Case for proper oversight, accountability and public confidence.
For those reasons, I strongly recommend that the Cabinet does not approve this outsourcing proposal for Learning Disabilities today.
DAVID ORR ,Somerset taxpayer