Sunday, 18 December 2016

County Council winds up social care training company


Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership Limited (LWDP), a company owned by Lancashire County Council, has ceased trading, 11 years after it was set up to support workforce development activities in the social care sector.

LWDP formally ceased to trade on 7 December. The company, based in Bamber Bridge, employed 13 people who have been made redundant as a result of the decision to wind up the Partnership.

The decision to cease funding LWDP was agreed by Full Council at its budget meeting in February 2016, as part of the council's response to its extremely challenging financial circumstances and changes to the social care sector.  Our County Council is being forced by central government to find £303 million in savings (cuts) by 2020, which means councillors are continually being forced into some harrowing choices.

The government's own Health Select Committee has warned Chancellor Philip Hammond that the budget allowed to local authorities for Health & Social Care is so inadequate that it will cause both chaos to underfunded NHS hospitals and intense distress for people reliant on these services for their survival.

The government's only response to date has been to increase the limit by which Councils can raise their Council Tax. They have so far refused to acknowledge that the most this could raise in lower-rated authorities such as Lancashire would barely be a drop in the ocean of disproportionately austere funding cuts they have imposed on lower-income authorities.

In last February's budget for 2016 / 2017 the County Council already made a 4% increase in Council Tax. Even so they were also forced to drop planned cuts to the council's flood risk management service after flooding last winter.

Speaking about this latest change in the Health & Social Care sector, Jenny Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "Over the years Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership has contributed significantly to improving the quality of social care for many people across the county, through its training and workforce development activities. However, current social care market conditions mean we now have to prioritise different types of training provision.

"This has been a difficult decision to make, and I am very sympathetic to those people who will be made redundant.

"We have to ensure that we are getting the best value from all of our funding and winding the company up, will enable us to recover around £750,000 from its reserves and spend the money directly to provide training for the social care sector."

('Reserves' refers to money that must be set aside to ensure that a contract made by the Council can be honoured for the duration of its term.)

Lesley Bamber, Chief Executive of Lancashire Workforce Development Partnership, said: "This has been a very sad process for everyone involved in the Partnership, and whilst I do not agree with the decision, I do understand the county council's decision.

"I am very proud of all of the staff who have contributed to our work over the years and of the difference we have made to improving standards of care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such committed and talented people and wish them all the very best in their future careers."

LWDP formally ceased to trade on 7 December. The company, based in Bamber Bridge, employed 13 people who have been made redundant as a result of the decision to wind up the Partnership.


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