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COMMISSIONING (VIRTUAL) COUNCILS – ARE THEY THE WAY FORWARD?
Southampton City Council has recently announced that they are considering becoming a “commissioning council” but what does this mean?
A commissioning council tries to ensure there is flexibility for cultural change whilst guaranteeing a healthy public sector into the future and maintaining efficiency.
The general public are usually unconcerned about who provides their services as long as they are high quality, consistent and delivered in an efficient and effective manner. It is no longer necessary for existing councils to provide the services themselves and they should look to see whether it would be beneficial to outsource some services to the private sector. In certain circumstances outsourcing will not be the correct way forward but councils should consider the private, public and third sectors to see which can provide each of the services they require at best value for their constituents.
Southampton City Council’s decision to involve outsourcing firm Capita in discussions about becoming a commissioning council by 2015 have been criticised by Unite the Union as they believe this will have a significant effect on the services that are provided as well as the employment conditions and pensions of existing council workers.
The Council leader, Councillor Royston Smith, denies that working with private companies such as Capita would lead to residents receiving “an inferior standard of service”. He believes that by working with companies such as Capita they can provide an even better service to residents whilst finding the necessary savings required in these difficult times.
As with all debates about the benefits of the public and private services there are good and bad points made by each side. The unions should embrace the prospect of working with the private sector, which will in many circumstances improve their members’ conditions and prospects. The council should also recognise the important part that their existing staff play in the services that are provided and not automatically assume that private sector companies can perform the work better than their existing staff.
In the legal sector, for example, it would be foolhardy to completely do away with a legal department, as a number of the areas which local government have to deal with are best left in-house. There are, however, numerous areas of law where the use of external firms such as Nockolds LLP can be of significant benefit to the councils. For example, outsourcing employment law issues can help ensure that the relations between the council and the union (which often break down when these are dealt with in-house) remain convivial.
Each council must decide how best to run the services they provide to the public but outsourcing some services whilst keeping others in house may (in the long run) be the best solution.
The position relating to pleural plaques in England and Wales rests with the Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co decision in 2007. The Defendants in that case successfully argued that it was unreasonable for pleural plaque sufferers to be compensated as they had suffered no physical harm. The Scottish Parliament decision was a public policy decision as they believed that people who had unlawfully been exposed to asbestos (and therefore are living with the risk of developing a terrible asbestos related disease) should be compensated.
It remains to be seen whether Westminster decide to legislate on this issue. It may be that any asbestos related legislation will be delayed until we have the decision of the Supreme Court in the EL Trigger Litigation (mesothelioma) which is due to be heard at the end of this year. If that case goes against the Claimants Parliament may decide to legislate on both issues at the same time.
In the meantime sufferers of pleural plaques in England and Wales may want to know why people suffering from pleural plaques in Scotland are receiving compensation but they are not!
If you have would like to discuss a potential claim for pleural plaques or asbestosis, please contact Ivan Moody @ Nockolds LLP Solicitors.
Is sharing a Chief Executive a good idea?
On 20th October 2011 London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) announced that they will be sharing a Chief Executive, Derek Myers. Mr Myers has been Chief Executive of RBKC since 2000 and takes on the dual role when the current Chief Executive of LBHF, Geoff Alltimes retires.
The reason for the decision to share a Chief Executive is the need to make substantial cuts and it is rumoured this decision will save £200,000pa. The decision raises a number of concerns, the major one being how Mr Myers intends to split his time, but if he manages to succeed there is no doubt other councils will give serious consideration to doing the same. A number of councils already share certain services, for example Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council share a number of services. They are also seriously considering combining with Wycombe District Council to share Legal Services.
Another option is for councils to consider outsourcing more of their work. Groups of Local Authorities are likely to have significant bargaining power with the private sector if they club together rather than looking for their own suppliers. A printing Company or Office Stationer (for example) may be prepared to negotiate a substantial reduction in their prices if they are supplying in bulk to a number of councils rather than just one. The large supermarkets have already shown how this can work and although we may not approve of their methods (in dealing with suppliers) local authorities, if they wish to make substantial savings, may have to follow suit.
Local Authorities throughout the country are being asked to find considerable savings and sharing services or even Chief Executives may be the way forward. The concern must be whether the service they provide their constituents will be affected. If the decision to share a Chief Executive by LBHF and RBKC is a success the cynical amongst us may ask what Mr Myers and Mr Alltimes have been doing with 50% of their time now the two jobs are going to be filled by only one man.
For more information on Nockolds legal services for Local Government and the public sector, please contact Ivan Moody on 01279 712532.
The BBC reported today of the Care Home Staff arrested over suspicions of neglect at the Southern Cross Home specialising in Dementia Care.
But what do you do if you suspect neglect?
The first step should always be to report it. If the abuse is taking place in a care home inform their senior management. If this does not allay your concerns speak to a GP or nurse or other trusted medical professional.
What do you do if the abuse continues? It is always advisable to keep a diary of your concerns and if physical injuries are involved take photographs. This is the best evidence of injuries occurring and will be invaluable to your solicitor if it becomes necessary to consider legal proceedings. There are also a number of other bodies to whom you can report your concerns including Action on Elder Abuse, the Local Authority and the Police.
At Nockolds we offer a free confidential no obligation initial consultation for all those who have suffered from abuse or have family who have suffered from abuse. We appreciate this can be a difficult issue to discuss and that you may prefer to do this in your own home. Nockolds’ staff are happy to travel to see their clients and will not insist that the client comes to them.
For more information please contact Jennie Jones or Ivan Moody to arrange an appointment.
Our Accident & Injury team offer expert advice on a range of claims.
Our wide experience and different areas of expertise mean we can assist with all types of claims for compensation, answer your questions, give straightforward advice and guide you through the process.
Make an appointment or come along on Saturday morning if you:
As members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and acredited as specialists by the Law Society, Jennie Jones and her team are committed to providing those injured with answers to their questions:
Do I have a claim?
We give you an honest appraisal of your claim, chances of succeeding, how long it will take and wherever possible how much compensation you may receive. If you do not have a legal claim, we will tell you and explain why.
Will it cost me to talk to you?
No, we offer a free initial consultation. We will then tell you if we can act on a No Win No Fee basis or find out if you have existing insurance that may cover your claim. We will explain all this to you in plain english with straight talking advice. If your claim is successful, then you will keep your compensation.
I don't want to feel like I am dealing with an insurance call centre and have to explain myself each time I call, how are Nockolds different?
At Nockolds all our clients have a named individual who deals with their situation. They will know you, your claim and understand how the injury has altered your life. There is no faceless communication. We would like to meet you to discuss your claim and you can come in and talk about your claim at any time.
Flexibility and Accessibility:
We know how busy life can be, so we do offer evening appointments and Saturday Surgeries on the first Saturday of every month (9.30am - 1pm) at our Market Square offices in Bishops Stortford, we can also visit injured people at home, hospital or work depending on where it is most convenient.
Call Jennie or her team on 01279 755777 or email at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form.