The great hive-off - new operating model planned at Worcestershire County Council

Evesham Journal: County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

A CONTROVERSIAL new operating model is being launched by Worcestershire County Council - which will see almost all services farmed out to new providers.

Under the blueprint, revealed today by your Worcester News, only social care for adults and children, health and a range of business or environmental functions would remain in-house.

For well over a year the council, which is facing unprecedented financial pressures, has talked about following a "commissioning model" by hiving off departments to outside bodies.

A new diagram, which is a draft one and subject to change, finally shows just how far the council could be prepared to push it to make changes.

Under the proposals three areas would be kept in-house:

- Services for adults and health, including social work

- Children's services, encompassing adoption, fostering and safeguarding

- The Business, Environment and Community Service function (known as BEC), including help for the economy, roads, regulation and asset management

Everything underneath that trio of areas faces being handed over, with the private sector, voluntary groups, and partnerships with other councils looked upon as possible options for the future.

The model still needs to be endorsed by the council's Conservative leadership, and its success would depend on finding appropriate providers for the other functions.

It comes as the council needs to save around £99 million by 2019, a record tally, mainly due to demographic pressures and dwindling Government funding.

It has already been questioned by some councillors, who say the final plan needs a thorough debate.

Councillor Richard Udall, chairman of the opposition Labour group, said: "The role of elected members is going to be critical as we move forward with this.

"The whole process we could have to follow is likely to be very different to how it's been in the past, there's likely to be an element of resistance to this, not just politically but but due to the fear of the unknown."

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "This all comes down to political priorities - one thing we are not doing is putting signs up saying 'we're closed'.

"This is a large organisation which does a lot of things, we've responded to the austerity and the economy, but we've got to go further to adapt for the future based around our priorities."

Councillor Andy Roberts, a fellow Conservative, said it would require a "culture change" from politicians.

"The council is changing, services will be delivered in different ways for the better," he said.

"Maybe there's too many councillors."

Comments (9)

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12:54pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Pomygranit says...

Welcome to the world of Capita, Atos, Serco, G4S and those other profit (sorry) service providers.

You may criticise the council, often with good reason but just wait until any of the above take over a 'service'.

Lies, etc await us all
Welcome to the world of Capita, Atos, Serco, G4S and those other profit (sorry) service providers. You may criticise the council, often with good reason but just wait until any of the above take over a 'service'. Lies, etc await us all Pomygranit
  • Score: 10

1:20pm Mon 31 Mar 14

CJH says...

Well, if they are farming all this work out we won't need a chief executive will we? Over-inflated salary saved right there. And we'll need it to pay for all these private services.
Well, if they are farming all this work out we won't need a chief executive will we? Over-inflated salary saved right there. And we'll need it to pay for all these private services. CJH
  • Score: 3

1:37pm Mon 31 Mar 14

saucerer says...

Outsourcing some services to the private sector is welcomed and much needed. There have been examples of some services going pear-shaped when in the hands of the private sector, but these examples are few and far between and pale in to insignificance when compared to the number of errors by councils, many of which has far reaching and life-threatening consequences. How many stories, for example, do we hear where council social services and health care have failed, often resulting in tragic consequences?

The private sector will be able to deliver services in a far more superior, effective and efficient manner, using less staff, overheads and finances. Just look at social housing in Worcester where WCH have proved successful, not only generating profits which private companies do, but they've also built new and refurbished so many properties, something the council weren't able to do when they were in control of housing stock.

There are so many services at Worcestershire county council that need to be hived off to the private sector and as well as seeing huge savings being made, we'd also benefit from far better services because of the private sector ethic, one that is hard working, dedicated, competent and efficient.

I personally can't wait for highways to be privatised as this must be the council's most inept department by far and, as many people have commented on other council/highway articles in the past, Worcester Bosch would be the ideal company to take over. They're a massive success story which has not only put loads back in to Worcestershire, but their success has been achieved by great business sense, hard work, competency, efficiency, common sense and leftfield thinking. Imagine what success they could achieve when in charge of the highways department!
Outsourcing some services to the private sector is welcomed and much needed. There have been examples of some services going pear-shaped when in the hands of the private sector, but these examples are few and far between and pale in to insignificance when compared to the number of errors by councils, many of which has far reaching and life-threatening consequences. How many stories, for example, do we hear where council social services and health care have failed, often resulting in tragic consequences? The private sector will be able to deliver services in a far more superior, effective and efficient manner, using less staff, overheads and finances. Just look at social housing in Worcester where WCH have proved successful, not only generating profits which private companies do, but they've also built new and refurbished so many properties, something the council weren't able to do when they were in control of housing stock. There are so many services at Worcestershire county council that need to be hived off to the private sector and as well as seeing huge savings being made, we'd also benefit from far better services because of the private sector ethic, one that is hard working, dedicated, competent and efficient. I personally can't wait for highways to be privatised as this must be the council's most inept department by far and, as many people have commented on other council/highway articles in the past, Worcester Bosch would be the ideal company to take over. They're a massive success story which has not only put loads back in to Worcestershire, but their success has been achieved by great business sense, hard work, competency, efficiency, common sense and leftfield thinking. Imagine what success they could achieve when in charge of the highways department! saucerer
  • Score: 4

2:32pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Moltaire says...

I beleive that some services needs to be run by the private sector, but not all and especially those where people's welfare and health are involed. Keeping this in house will at least result in some accountability. But there are services that certainly require hiving off and these will be run in a more efficient and effective way, while I wholeheartedly agree that the highways department should be the prime candidate for privatisation.

I also agree that Worcester Bosch would be the right business to manage the highways department. Their proven track record in efficency, integrity and excellent business acumen is there for all to see and they'd certainly turn around the highways department, making them an excellent service, while probably a leaner one as they'd get a harder working ethic out of the staff meaning less employees are required.
I beleive that some services needs to be run by the private sector, but not all and especially those where people's welfare and health are involed. Keeping this in house will at least result in some accountability. But there are services that certainly require hiving off and these will be run in a more efficient and effective way, while I wholeheartedly agree that the highways department should be the prime candidate for privatisation. I also agree that Worcester Bosch would be the right business to manage the highways department. Their proven track record in efficency, integrity and excellent business acumen is there for all to see and they'd certainly turn around the highways department, making them an excellent service, while probably a leaner one as they'd get a harder working ethic out of the staff meaning less employees are required. Moltaire
  • Score: 3

3:57pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Redhillman says...

There'd be no arguments from me about allowing the private sector to run some council services, which is long overdue. As others have mentioned, the highways department should be the service that is prime for privatisation. The current set-up results in a department which is very poor performing, in fact incompetent sums them up nicely. As for Worcester Bosch running highways? Most definitely. This company has not got where they are without hard work, intelligent staff and efficient ways of working.
There'd be no arguments from me about allowing the private sector to run some council services, which is long overdue. As others have mentioned, the highways department should be the service that is prime for privatisation. The current set-up results in a department which is very poor performing, in fact incompetent sums them up nicely. As for Worcester Bosch running highways? Most definitely. This company has not got where they are without hard work, intelligent staff and efficient ways of working. Redhillman
  • Score: -1

4:10pm Mon 31 Mar 14

skychip says...

I know some services are going to be privatised and out of County Hall so expect they will take others in to fill the building. Have heard that DEFRA are moving in but can't find out definitely.
I know some services are going to be privatised and out of County Hall so expect they will take others in to fill the building. Have heard that DEFRA are moving in but can't find out definitely. skychip
  • Score: -1

7:39pm Mon 31 Mar 14

DEMRICS says...

I have dealt with Worcestershire County Council's highways department on many occasion and I find that the way they handle customer enquiries is very good, in fact, better than many private companies I have dealt with.

However, the actual manner in which highway services are delivered overall on the ground is less than good. In fact, I find the highways staff rather inept. Their decision making processes, logic, efficiency, policies, handling of finances and the actual competence of delivering schemes is a total shambles, and this is reflected not only in the answers they have provided to some of my questions, but also the large number of high profile errors this department has continuously delivered over the years like.

I would therefore support any calls for this department to be managed by a private company, but what also needs to happen is a culture change among the staff so that they're brought in line with with private sector staff. Basically, they need to buck up their ideas, work harder, work more logically, become accountable, work more efficiently, reduce the high number of errors and mismanagement and also recognise that they are working for a customer, in this case, the tax payer. And because the intellect and knowledge of existing highways staff is sorely lacking, recruitment from highway consultants and other stakeholders involved with roads, traffic, road safety etc needs to be introduced too to not only guide and help the highways staff, but to also ensure there is some logic and competence in delivering schemes and, indeed, decision making processes as a whole. As for companies to take over the running of the highways department? Well, there are many success stories in Worcestershire who deserve a crack at the whip, but Worcester Bosch are high flyers and standard setters so they should be considered as the managing authority of the highways department.
I have dealt with Worcestershire County Council's highways department on many occasion and I find that the way they handle customer enquiries is very good, in fact, better than many private companies I have dealt with. However, the actual manner in which highway services are delivered overall on the ground is less than good. In fact, I find the highways staff rather inept. Their decision making processes, logic, efficiency, policies, handling of finances and the actual competence of delivering schemes is a total shambles, and this is reflected not only in the answers they have provided to some of my questions, but also the large number of high profile errors this department has continuously delivered over the years like. I would therefore support any calls for this department to be managed by a private company, but what also needs to happen is a culture change among the staff so that they're brought in line with with private sector staff. Basically, they need to buck up their ideas, work harder, work more logically, become accountable, work more efficiently, reduce the high number of errors and mismanagement and also recognise that they are working for a customer, in this case, the tax payer. And because the intellect and knowledge of existing highways staff is sorely lacking, recruitment from highway consultants and other stakeholders involved with roads, traffic, road safety etc needs to be introduced too to not only guide and help the highways staff, but to also ensure there is some logic and competence in delivering schemes and, indeed, decision making processes as a whole. As for companies to take over the running of the highways department? Well, there are many success stories in Worcestershire who deserve a crack at the whip, but Worcester Bosch are high flyers and standard setters so they should be considered as the managing authority of the highways department. DEMRICS
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Mon 31 Mar 14

old misery says...

With all this outsourcing how will this affect the salaries for
officials and "responsibility"allo
wances for our councilors??
With all this outsourcing how will this affect the salaries for officials and "responsibility"allo wances for our councilors?? old misery
  • Score: -2

8:25pm Mon 31 Mar 14

b1ackb1rd says...

Old Age care will become the new Wild West for the unscrupulous, the roads will grind to a halt ... And they'll be no accountability.
This is a disaster looking for somewhere to happen
Old Age care will become the new Wild West for the unscrupulous, the roads will grind to a halt ... And they'll be no accountability. This is a disaster looking for somewhere to happen b1ackb1rd
  • Score: 1

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