The Cornwall Council budget for next year proposes to save more than £4 million pounds in the Adult Care budget through 'procurement activity savings'. I attended the Adult Care scrutiny committee meeting today and asked what exactly this meant.
It turns out that the former practice was for individual social workers to negotiate details of individual care contracts with care providers.
This seems bonkers.
Social workers are experts in assessing the needs of people who need care and judging how to provide that care. But they are not recruited because of their acumen in contract negoitiations. Not surprisingly, therefore, some of the contracts they negotiate are better value for money than others.
And so it makes perfect sense for the Council to use skilled negotiators to fix care contract prices and make sure that people who need care get the right package at the right price.
I'm sometimes attacked by my colleagues on Cornwall Council for not criticising the former County Council because it was Lib Dem controlled. I don't think I've ever held back on being critical where I think it is justified (and where I know the facts), but this is clearly one instance where they got it horribly wrong.