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Plan targets value for money for disabled people

North London adult social care organisation Your Choice Barnet has announced new plans to offer disabled people better value for money and more flexible services.

The plans aim to reduce costs for specialist support and care for people with learning and physical disabilities, as increasing numbers take control over their social care by choosing personal budgets.

Your Choice Barnet was created by Barnet Council in February 2012 as a sister organisation to social landlord Barnet Homes. It provides services to hundreds of people with a wide range of learning and physical disabilities.

As it enters its second year, it is seeking to make substantial efficiencies to ensure that it can offer competitive prices for its specialist services in comparison with other social care providers.

The new plans also include the possible introduction of more evening and weekend services at some schemes, giving disabled people and their parents or carers more flexibility to choose sessions that suit their lifestyles.

Your Choice Barnet hopes the plans will also attract additional customers to its services, which include specialist support for people with autism and profound disabilities, a supported living scheme to help people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own home, and a respite service offering a break to both service users and their parents or carers.

The efficiency proposals include a restructure of the Your Choice Barnet management team and some restructuring of individual teams. The plans would lead to an overall reduction of 6.8 full-time equivalent posts.

The plans would also see the Barnet Independent Living Service (BILS) move out of current premises at the former 'Flightways' building at Grahame Park, which is in a poor state of repair and requires major modernisation. The service would merge with Your Choice Barnet's CommunitySpace service, and disabled people needing centre-based support would be able to use the Space building in Edgware.

Other proposed changes include:

  • the end of weekend and night-time pay enhancements for staff, to be replaced by a flat pay rate
  • the introduction of schemes to encourage greater use of volunteers for non-specialist tasks and a social care apprenticeship scheme to support more Barnet residents into long-term employment
  • the introduction of more Assistant Support Workers to provide non-complex support, such as personal care, so freeing up a smaller group of Support Workers to carry out more specialist work.

Your Choice Barnet is today (Friday 1 March) launching a 90-day consultation with staff and trade unions on the proposals, with a final decision on the proposals expected in late May 2013.

Your Choice Barnet Chief Executive, Tracey Lees, said: "We're very proud of the quality of the Your Choice Barnet services, but the move to personal budgets and direct payments means we have to look increasingly at combining quality with value.

"We have to ensure that our services remain affordable to the increasing numbers of disabled people who are electing to take control over how they spend money on their care and support. We are operating in a market and our costs need to be competitive. This will also help us to meet our targets of attracting new customers and new business.

"We've demonstrated at our sister organisation Barnet Homes that it's possible to combine efficiency with quality. We've stripped away more than 20 per cent of Barnet Homes' operating costs since its creation but our tenant satisfaction is at record levels. We're confident we can repeat this at Your Choice Barnet.

"There's no doubt this will be a difficult period for many staff in Your Choice Barnet, but these plans are absolutely necessary if we are to achieve our objective of providing excellent services at good value to disabled people."