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Radicalism in Staffordshire

There was some good points made by Cllr Ian Parry, the Deputy Leader of Staffordshire County Council, in evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

He talked about an arrangement in Newcastle-under-Lyme where a group of social workers had been allowed to form a mutual, like a GP's surgery. The staff turnover - which is a great source of resentment among Looked After Children - was reduced. There was less bureaucracy and more innovation. The evidence of surveys of the children in care and inspection was that standards increased.

Cllr Parry some the Government could help the process along by addressing complexities "with technical things around TUPE."

He said:

We want people outside in the private, voluntary, co-operative sectors to help us to dismantle what was the old model of local government because we can’t afford it any more, and it necessarily isn’t providing services in the right way for the future, so there are those things that we need to do. The existing and old model of local government is not fit for purpose  and we need to do something about it.

The Conservatives only gained Staffordshire County Council from the Labour Party three years ago and so, of course, keeping power next year will be a struggle. But the Conservatives have brought in radical change. Surplus buildings are being sold to reduce debt - although there is an odd insistence on keeping municipally owned farms.

Cllr Parry says there is a "real chance" of a Council Tax cut next year after announcing a £3 million underspend this year.

Last December the council approved an arrangement for "joined up" adult social care with the NHS. Its staff will transfer to a trust. Those in need of care with have greater support to avoid going into hospital and will have one person responsible for their "care package." It is estimated that it will save the council £20 million a year and will also bring substantial savings for the NHS.


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