UKIP fears Northamptonshire council's care merger is 'like moving deckchairs on the Titanic' while staff fear redundancies
A move aimed atÂ saving Northamptonshire County Council more than Â£9 million by merging Olympus Care and its own in-house adult social care department will just shift money around, not save it, according to UKIP.
Olympus Care Services was set up to run care homes, provide services for people with disabilities and run schemes such as short breaks for carers on behalf of the county council, in 2012.
But the authority is now consulting on plans to deliver most its adult social services within a standalone organisation, Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, (NASS) retaining Olympus Care in a limited capacity.
The planned "review" of Olympus Care Services is earmarked to save Â£8.5 million in 2017/18, while an in-house "staffing structure" review is proposed to save Â£800,000.
But Councillor Adam Collyer, (UKIP, Daventry West) part of the adult care scrutiny committee, believes the move is a step back to the pre-2012 days.
He said: "Merging Olympus Care back into the rest of adult social services will not address this fundamental issue. It is simply reversing a change that was made a few years ago to improve efficiency.The council is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic."There is an alternative to all this - a single unitary council for the county could save Â£29 million a year and avoid almost all these cuts. If we don't go for the unitary council, there will be service cuts that will cause real suffering in our county."
Last year the Adult Social Care budget included Â£24 million of savings, but they were not achieved and the service is overspending again.
The planned savings for 2017/18 are Â£35 million. Meanwhile there is real uncertainty as to whether jobs will be lost in the merger. Olympus Care Services is not being disbanded completely, but the detail of what will be left of the organisation is slim.
A report on the council consultation, states: "Olympus Care Services will retain its income generation ability and NASS will cover all other activity."
Olympus Care has about 1,200 staff, most of whom are expected to transfer across to NASS.
Though an anonymous employee told the Chron: "If we would lose the Â£8.5 million, we would have to close half of our services.
"We have roughly 1,200 employees, it might mean that half of our Olympus Care Services jobs will be lost."
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesperson said: “We are developing plans for a new standalone adult social care organisation, bringing together Adult Social Care and Olympus Care Services, as part of our Next Generation Council model, which will deliver services for the county council in a more innovative, effective and efficient way.
“At this stage, an outline business case for the new organisation has been approved by cabinet and is now open for public consultation, alongside a TUPE consultation with staff and trade unions. More detailed plans will be presented to cabinet in March after the consultation closes in February and once all feedback has been considered.”