Lancashire County Council looks outside for care savings

County Hall
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A private study on how social workers are employed in Lancashire could save the county council more than £10m over the next three years.

The authority has brought in a specialist company to assess efficiency in adult and children’s social care as part of a wider programme of economies.

The firm, called Newton, has a proven track record of finding efficiency savings with other councils, and County Hall bosses are confident they can help the authority to trim its budget in adult and children’s social care – an area which will account for more than half of Lancashire’s £726m budget for 2015/16.

“Their work is being focused on the administration side, rather than the service itself,” said LCC deputy leader Coun David Borrow.

“They will be looking at social workers working with children and adults, how they do their work and spend their time, what they do in the office. They have worked with other councils and come up with changes which would bring quite significant savings.

“It is estimated that they could save more than £10m in our budget over three years.

“We don’t know what the figure will be, but £10m is felt to be a conservative estimate.

“They will do their work over the next few months and then we will sit down and make a decision on what course of action we should take.

“If they could bring about savings which don’t impact on the service that we give, then that would be great.

“They come in with a very much non-local government background, so they are a fresh pair of eyes.”

Lancashire County Council has to find savings of £178m by 2018, and the authority agreed last week to increase the council tax by 1.99 per cent to help offset some of those cuts. Social care makes up £375m (52 per cent) of the authority’s net budget of £726m and will have to take a big hit when it comes to cutbacks.

Council officers have looked at 17,500 different items of the authority’s expenditure in their search for economies. The cuts come despite a £52m cash windfall LCC will receive from dealings on the money markets in the past year.