The Financial Adult Safeguarding and Welfare Benefits Advice services run by West Sussex County Council are two essential public services which support the most vulnerable people in our community. County Council Cabinet member for Finance Michael Brown recently took a decision to outsource the services to private firm Capita, despite grave misgivings expressed by carers, residents and staff.
Other Councillors are so concerned they have taken the rare step of ‘calling in’ the decision, which means it will receive full scrutiny at a meeting of the Performance and Finance Select Committee at 2pm, Friday 16th May.
UNISON West Sussex has been working with its members in the vital services to alert Councillors as to the true consequences of the decision, which poses significant risk not just to service quality but also to the terms and conditions of staff who provide the service.
These concerns are shared by the Association of Public Authority Deputies who have written to the Council expressing their concerns in detail, and by disabled people, their carers and organisations, who have responded in a limited public consultation organised by the Council.
Margaret Guest, Chair of campaign group Don’t Cut Us Out will address the Select Committee and call for a Council rethink.
The Branch will keep members up-to-date with the final Cabinet member decision, and no doubt members will be able to read about it in next week’s local press.
Members who are concerned about the consequences of outsourcing for their services and livelihoods must work with the Branch when these situations arise, so that the case for public services can be put as powerfully as possible.