Ground-breaking proposals that would see a new social enterprise set up to support people with learning disabilities will be discussed by senior councillors next week.
Leeds City Council’s executive board will be updated on plans for the city’s Learning Disability Service to be transferred into the innovative new model.
If approved, the plans would see the service, which has an annual budget of £22m and supports more than 1,000 of the city’s vulnerable adults, become owned and operated by staff.
While people using the service would still be supported by the same staff in the same buildings, the social enterprise would work for the community, with any surplus money generated used to either improve existing services or for the benefit of the local area.
At next week's meeting, members will hear about the creation of the new Aspire Community Benefit Society, which will manage the social enterprise, and will be asked to support subsequent steps towards transferring the business to the new model, including further staff and trade union consultation, transfer of assets and the awarding of contracts.
Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:
“This is an exciting time for the Learning Disability Service as we move towards what we believe would represent the biggest shift into this kind of social enterprise model ever to take place in Leeds.
“Whilst there is still a great deal of work to be done, we are getting closer to an innovative and sustainable new way of delivering services to some of our most vulnerable residents.”
The Learning Disability Service currently employs more than 700 staff, who would all transfer to the new model with the same terms and conditions.
Staff, trade unions, service users and their families have all been consulted on the proposals and their views will be used to shape the social enterprise.
Cllr Ogilvie added:
“This is a pivotal time for the Learning Disability Service. While demand for care and support continues to rise, that increased demand is coming at a time when the council is facing unprecedented budget pressures that are forcing us to look at new ways of delivering vital services.
“We are determined to do all that we can to ensure those budget pressures do not compromise the Learning Disability Service and we believe a social enterprise represents the best and most sustainable solution.
“The new model will allow the service to operate independently, with our support, in a highly competitive market, attracting new business and working more efficiently while still maintain the impressive high standards the Learning Disability Service has become known for.
“For existing staff, it will also mean they are in charge of their own destiny, with the foundation of their existing terms and conditions as well as a firm commitment to a living wage for staff joining the service in future.
“In that way, we believe the enterprise will continue to grow and flourish so that vulnerable people in Leeds will receive the support they need from a service the city can be proud of.”
To view a full copy of the report, visit: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s127384/Social%20Enterprise%20Cover%20Report%20020215.pdf
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Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937