CBC Set to Outsource Legal Services Among Its Plans to Make £35m Efficiency Savings

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Legal Services

A report to Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Committee on Tuesday this week, sets out the background case for moving to an outside provider for legal services.

A number of reasons are cited for this move, not least the need to save money. Legal issues affecting local authorities are wide ranging, and increasingly the Council has had to hire outside experts with the right specialisms and these come with high markups for profit. A new outside provider will be able to call upon a wider base of skills.

Neighbourhood Plans

The Council also recognises that a number of Neighbourhood Plans will be formally submitted in 2015/16 and in the future and is expected to formalise staffing arrangements to help these. Report

Draft Budget

The biggest issue on the minds of Councillors will be its draft budget for 2016/17. A report to the Council states that "the loss of Government funding support is 94% over the life of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), or £28.1M in cash terms". The Government has made the assumption in its
financial modelling that councils will raise council tax by both the 2% precept earmarked for adult social care and an assumed 1.75% for inflation in each of the next four years. Despite these difficulties, the report to Council says that the MTFP has been updated "against a background of significant challenges".

All considered, the Council estimates it has to make around £35m of savings over 4 years and has set out how it will achieve this, as shown below. Table 5 and Table 6 from report.

To illustrate how some of these savings will be made, the report to councillors gives a few bullet points including:

Children's Services sees demand for children’s social care services as increasing, and to save the Council money it sees more reliance being placed on "foster carers engaged by the Council directly rather than via expensive agencies."

Social Care, Health & Housing (SCHH) will "Continue the journey towards the integration of health and social care, so that residents can access as much of the help and support they may need as possible, closer to where they live, and reducing the need for people to resort to hospitals."

Community Services will be looking for ways to increase efficiencies, and look to where it can be more commercial.