SB Cares

SB Cares

Scottish Borders Council

A rural area with only 5 towns of more than 10,000 residents. The total budget spend for the services in scope was £18m with over 700 FTE staff


n late 2013 the commissioners and directors of Adult Social Care in the Scottish
Borders were facing serious problems in relation to their In-House Provider Services,
which included, Older Peoples Residential, OP and LD Day Centres, a Homecare
Service and a Community Equipment Store with telecare monitoring.

The problems that they were facing were not untypical of most council, including
drastic budget costs to be made, increasing numbers of personal budget-holders, a
weak private sector that was vulnerable to failure and an expensive workforce with
low morale from continual service re-designs and management reorganisations.

The senior management team recognised that the Members needed to see a
comprehensive and independent appraisal of how these services could be
transformed so they could continue to be delivered for the benefit of residents and at
best value to the Council.

The Council decided to commission Care and Health Solutions Ltd (CHS) to prepare
and deliver an independent appraisal of the options available to their services. CHS
were selected for this work as their experience in this area of adult social care was
extensive and they and had worked with over 10% of the councils in the UK on the
future of their adult social care services.

Within 3 months CHS presented their report to Members and Officers on 5 options:

• Remain in-house

• Tender all services to the private sector

• Community Interest Company

• Local Authority Trading Company (LATC)

• Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the Council

The Report recommended that the services be transferred into an LLP and also
included an indicative timeline and project plan for the implementation of the selected

The recommendation was accepted as the LLP option provided the following:

• The Council would still have ultimate control of the services through 100% ownership

• The transfer would allow a cultural change in the services to enable better
working practices and develop efficiencies

• The services could provide/sell services to budget-holders and self-funders

• Full-time senior management would provide focus and scrutiny of costs and
productivity not experienced before

• All efficiencies, cost savings and income from new services would benefit the
Council through reduced service costs, additional service provision or profit-share

• The LLP would be the “Provider of Last Resort” commissioned by the Council
in the event of a market failure

The Council then held a full Council meeting to consider the report and voted to go to
the next stage, which was to develop a detailed business case that would prove the
financial benefits to the Council and other benefits to service users and staff.
Scottish Borders tendered the commission for the Business Case (BC) which was
awarded to CHS which was completed in 4 months.

The BC was written for the preferred option (LLP) and involved working with a wider
group of stakeholders over several months, investigating the preferred option in more
detail and building a report that was robust enough for the Members to be able to
justify their decision to implement and launch the LLP.

The Business Case contained:

• Detailed description and design of the LLP

• Reasoning and justification as outlined in the Options Appraisal

• Financial model with a value for money calculation and a 5-year business

• Workstream activity requirements for implementation

• Risk/benefit log including ROI and Risk Log

• Detailed Implementation Plan

• Market and new business analysis

• Financial modelling and sensitivity analysis

• New process specification

• Outline of technology and ICT requirements

The detailed BC was scrutinised and tested by the Corporate Finance team, the
Commissioners, Procurement and the Legal department. The ultimate sign-off was
given by the Section 95 Officer (equivalent of S151 Officer in England and Wales)
and was a legal requirement before implementation could be started.

The Implementation phase started in September 2014 after the Members signed-off
the Business Case in June before the annual recess. The implementation had a go-
live date that did not move throughout the whole process and SB Cares LLP was
successfully launched on 1st July 2015.

The whole 9 month project was supported by a full-time project manager from
Scottish Borders and two consultants from CHS who supported the whole project two
or three days per week. The project contained 8 major workstreams that required a
workstream lead to organise and complete the required tasks that were contained in
the master implementation plan supplied and designed by CHS.

Project meetings were held weekly and this project group reported monthly to a
Project Board that oversaw the project and provided the decision-making powers if
needed by the project.

In the past months the project created, registered, named and branded a new
company, written and signed complicated Partnership Agreements, undertook
detailed consultation with 800 staff and created almost as many new email accounts.

The project team designed, built and published a new company website and moved
into a new head office, wrote new leases and sent letters to over 3000 clients.  The
project dealt with challenging media enquiries and challenging trade union
relationships and specified, purchased and installed a new finance system for SB
Cares LLP.

The above list of successes is just a small extract of the tasks that were included in
the implementation plan but should provide a pointer as to how hard and effectively
the project team worked in delivering SB Cares LLP on time.

The implementation of SB Cares has been a major success from both the Council’s and the Company’s point of view. There is no doubt that this result would not have been possible without the advice, knowledge and involvement of Clive and Russ from CHS. Their experience helped the project make the right decisions at the right times and their continual reminder of timelines and deadlines ensured the project was delivered on schedule.

Philip Barr, Interim Managing Director SB Cares and Depute Chief Executive – Place, Scottish Borders Council