Talks on whether to outsource learning disabilities service
A TEN-WEEK public consultation will ask whether one of Somerset County Council's largest services should be outsourced.
Caring and supporting 900 people through the in-house Learning Disabilities Provider Service (LDPS) costs £26 million a year.
The service employs 1,230 staff in day centres, shared houses, supported living, employment support and short break services.
The LDPS provides services for just under half of adults with learning disabilities.
The rest are supported by services delivered by other organisations under contract.
At a meeting, the cabinet requested the consultation to help decide how the service will be managed in the future.
The council is exploring whether it should extend the amount of support delivered by other organisations, or keep the service as it is.
Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, William Wallace, said: "The council wants to make sure that people with learning disabilities get the best possible support in the future and we are looking at three ways of doing that.
"No decision has been made and I'm sure that people with learning disabilities will have a strong voice. We will make sure there is expert independent support for them to express their views throughout this process."
The consultation will ask for opinions on the following three options, as well as seeking comments on the services that people receive and what they would like to receive:
1. Leave things as they are. The Learning Disabilities Provider Service would continue to be owned and run by the county council.
2. Somerset County Council to create a new organisation that is separate from the council, for example a publicly owned trust or not for profit organisation, and transfer all or some of the Learning Disability Provider Service to that new organisation.
3. Ask other care providers to bid to take over some or all of the Learning Disabilities Provider Service.
More details about the consultation, which is due to start before the end of September, and how people can take part will be publicised soon. People using the service, their families and carers will be contacted directly and invited to take part and people with learning disabilities will be supported to share their views.
After the consultation has ended a full business case will be considered by the cabinet.
This will include the views received and an evaluation of what the private and voluntary sector has to offer.
A decision by the cabinet on what option to take is expected in February 2014.