Social enterprise plan for Learning Disability Service to be discussed by senior councillors

Senior councillors in Leeds will discuss proposals for an innovative new social enterprise to support people with learning disabilities.

The ambitious plans would see Leeds City Council’s Learning Disability Service transfer into the new business model, which would be owned and operated entirely by staff.

The service, which has an annual budget of £20.9m, supports more than 1,000 of the city’s most vulnerable adults, providing help and advice as well as hands-on personal care.

The move, designed to secure the future of the service, would represent the biggest shift to a social enterprise model of its kind ever to take place in Leeds. A detailed business case has been produced which underpins the proposed model.

Social enterprises are businesses that work for the community rather than to make a profit. Any surplus money generated would be used to either improve existing services or for the benefit of the wider community.

At next Friday’s meeting, the council’s executive board will be asked to approve the start of formal consultation on the proposals.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:

“This social enterprise proposal represents a genuinely exciting opportunity for us to deliver some of our most important services in a new and sustainable way.

“Under a social enterprise model, service users and their carers will still receive the same high-quality support they do now, dealing with the same staff in the same buildings.

“But what these proposals would allow us to do is ensure that the vital support provided by the Learning Disability Service remains protected and secure at a time when we are facing unprecedented cuts to our budget.”

The Learning Disability Service currently employs more than 700 staff, who would all transfer to the new model with the same terms and conditions.

Letters have been sent to service users and their families informing them of the proposals ahead of any decision being taken, and customer’s views will also be used to shape any new social enterprise.

If the executive board approves the start of consultation, detailed service specifications and contracts will be prepared ahead of a further report going before the executive board later this year.

Cllr Ogilvie said:

“No final decisions will be made without the support of staff and elected members, but we firmly believe that this social enterprise represents the best and most sustainable model for the future of our Learning Disability Services.

“Like many local authorities, we are facing immense financial pressures, which means we have to think of creative ways of providing and commissioning services while still delivering on our pledge to provide better lives for our service users.

“By adopting a social enterprise model, the service will be able to operate more efficiently in what is a highly competitive market, attracting new business in the spirit of civic enterprise we are keen to encourage in Leeds."

He added:

“The high quality of the Learning Disability Service is something we are very proud of, and we are determined to do all we can to safeguard those services by securing a solid foundation upon which they can continue to flourish both now and in the future.”


For more information, contact:

Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3937

Email: stuart.robinson@leeds.gov.uk