02 November 2000
Local authority spending on outsourced homecare has exceeded what they spend on the service directly for the first time, according to a new report on domiciliary social care and community health services.
The report by analysts Laing & Buisson, published last week, found that during a sample week in September 1999, social services departments bought 1.35 million hours of homecare from independent providers. This compared with 1.32 million hours provided by in-house teams.
The report suggests that the finding underlines a trend towards spending more on outsourced services. Social services departments recognised that providing in-house homecare was more expensive than buying it from the private sector, in the same way that they saw the cost savings to be obtained from outsourcing residential care.
Philip Mickelborough, the report's author, said: "Eight years ago, before the reforms, social services delivered 98 percent of the homecare they funded. Now it is 49 per cent, and I expect the proportion to drop further."
Dave Wheller, head of corporate procurement and direct services at Essex County Council and chairman of the Society of Purchasing Officers in local government, said: "More local authorities are putting areas out to the marketplace that would never have been considered before."