…. I would like to thank Councillor William Wallace (Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care) for his written replies about the Future of the Learning Disability Service (LDPS) which are included in the minutes attached to today’s papers and reports.
We note that progress is being made in improving Contract Management but embedding that across the organisation is still incomplete (see yesterday’s Audit Committee paper
We have been told that Senior Officers direct SWAP (Southwest Audit Partnership) audits into areas of weakness and I would suggest that Cabinet Members and elected Councillors (via the Audit Committee?) should also be able to direct SWAP into areas of High Risk, both for the community and for the reputation of this Council.
The Trade Unions remain concerned about the commissioning (contracting out) of the Learning Disabilities Service to Dimensions via a Social Enterprise Vehicle (SEV).
Clearly, given the sensitive nature of care for such a vulnerable group of people, contract letting and management risk is higher, given the potential for harm or regulatory failure.
Unlike the ill-fated outsource to IBM for Southwest One, this is not a contract for relatively benign back office services but is about as community frontline as you can get for a very vulnerable group of people.
In Dorset, errors in the commissioning of a care contract have resulted in the provider running the service with a structural deficit and the provider has now cut wages and conditions for the staff who only recently transferred from the Council. This has resulted in a formal dispute that could lead to industrial action.
We also note that Contract(s) have not been signed with Dimensions UK Ltd and that there is a projected overspend in Learning Disabilities Service.
How are these issues related?
We would like this Council to consider recommending a pre-contract let Gateway Review by SWAP, to ensure that contract management best practice is embedded into this sensitive contract for the Learning Disabilities Service and for Members to have the additional reassurance that a SWAP audit can provide, that all risks have been identified and addressed.
Unite Branch Secretary