Newport council plans cost-cutting social care reforms

South Wales council hopes to shave £11m off its social care bill through a programme of better contracting and use of IT
Newport city council has launched a three year programme to reform its adult and children’s social services and save nearly £11m.
Stewart Greenwell, director of social services at Newport, told Guardian Social Care Network that the programme is as much about modernising and improving services as saving money.
According to Greenwell, most of the savings will be achieved through changes to the commissioning of care, including contracts with domiciliary agencies, and better contracting of services for people with learning difficulties.
“We have not been as smart in commissioning services as we need to be,” he admitted.
The council will also making better use of IT, including through use of telecare which will be used to remind people to take their medicines, replacing the visits of carers.
Newport will be seeking to work more closely with other organisations, and is already collaborating with the local police force on tracing missing people.
“When young people go missing we do not put enough effort into finding out why they go missing, and preventing young people from repeating their behaviour,” said Greenwell.
The council is working on the programme with consultancy Newton, which said that all its fees are “contingent on the realisation of financial savings”.
Steve Phillips, business manager at the company, said: “We will be observing the entire customer journey and ensuring committed savings are realised while delivering safe, coherent and efficient processes for service provision.”
Greenwell added: “There is a need for service change and we are all committed to making this happen. We are positive that this close partnership will deliver more streamlined processes for service delivery, significantly improving the experience of users and carers and delivering our own internal financial objectives.”
He said the changes would mean a reduction in the number of administrative staff. “We are looking at modernising the administrative support, but intending to do that without compulsory redundancies and will be taking proposals to cabinet in the very near future.”