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Hive-off fine if taxpayers reap reward
THE leader of Worcestershire County Council says he does not care if the private sector comes in to control swathes of services – as long as the outcome is better for taxpayers.
Councillor Adrian Hardman says he is “agnostic” about County Hall’s controversial scheme to market services to outside providers.
As your Worcester News revealed on Thursday, the project – known as commissioning – is aimed at cutting at least £20 million from spending every year from now until 2017.
It will result in about 650 job losses, although there are hopes a certain number of staff will be able to transfer over to the new providers.
Coun Hardman said: “To be absolutely frank, cutting stuff is the easy bit, you just look at the figure you need to save and slice it off.
“But that’s not what we are about. Actual, proper reform takes a lot longer and is more difficult, but it’s what we want to achieve.” During a full council meeting he outlined his yearly ‘state of play’ speech which insists the authority will focus on delivering “the right service, at the right price, in the right place.”
“We are continuing to make substantial progress in the way we deliver services to people in Worcestershire,” he said.
“It’s has not been an easy year, but we have continued to canvass people for their views and I am absolutely determined to take people on this journey with us.
“I am agnostic about who provides a service, as long as we get best value for taxpayers’ money and a better outcome.”
Under the move, all services will go through a cycle of being reviewed to see if external groups can take them on.
That could include the private sector, not-for-profit bodies, community organisations, the voluntary sector or even other councils.
One department which has already been ruled out of the process is children’s services, and libraries are also expected to remain in-house.