Borough looks to transfer adult services to private company

Adult services run by the council are set to be transferred to a private company owned by Wokingham Borough Council (WBC).

Optalis, whose chairman is Anthony Pollock, the executive member for economic development and finance at WBC, is a for-profit company that provides adult services to the council.

However, according to WBC’s chief executive, Andy Couldrick, profits are put back into the adult services.

Both councils claim the move will help them deal with rising number of residents relying on adult services, as they believe Optalis to be more efficient.

The proposal is to have the Royal Borough initially own 45 per cent, with Wokingham owning the other 55 per cent, with a view to a straight 50-50 split in the first two years.

If approved by both the Royal Borough’s cabinet and Wokingham Borough Council’s executive on Thursday, October 27, adult services will move to Optalis in April 2017.

There are no expected cuts to adult services, and over 300 members of staff will transfer to Optalis on the same employment terms they have as council workers.

The council will remain accountable for standards delivered by Optalis.

Cllr David Coppinger, cabinet member for adult services, said: “Our ambition as a council is to secure high quality services for our residents.

“It is important that we make decisions now that will ensure we have the resources, staff and expertise to continue providing support and assistance to our residents for the longer term.

“We already work closely with Wokingham on a number of other services and we believe that this decision will only strengthen that relationship and provide a better service for our residents.”

Mette Le Jakobsen, managing director at Optalis, says: “Optalis is a thriving local authority trading company, now in our sixth year of operation.

“We are thrilled that the Royal Borough is considering joining Wokingham Borough Council in delivering their adult social care services by expanding Optalis.

“Partnership is crucial in the social care sector and Optalis is part of a solution for local authorities who face challenges and pressures.”

Cllr Julian McGhee Sumner, executive member for health and wellbeing at WBC, said: “If this proposal is approved, the new relationship would strengthen the quality and breadth of adult services in the Wokingham borough.

“It would benefit the people using the service and give greater peace of mind to their families, but also enrich the capacity and resources for the professionals working within the sector.

“Optalis continues to prove its stature and reputation as an outstanding care provider in the area.”

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