COUNCIL chiefs are hoping a new social care company will bring in extra cash and give residents a better-quality service.

Cheshire East Council revealed last year it could turn its Care4CE adult social care service into a council-owned company, and the authority held consultation with staff on the move earlier this year.

The council now intends to bring concrete proposals on Care4CE to cabinet in the coming months – and if approved, the service could be offered to more residents across the borough and bring in much-needed cash.

Nichola Glover-Edge, director of commissioning, told a CEC committee on Thursday that the move would put ‘quality back into the market’.

She said: “We feel, as a commissioner, we do have a gap in the market around good quality services for people who fund their own care.

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“The market is very fragile and quality can differ between many different organisations.

“Giving [Care4CE] an ability to trade in the market puts a very experienced, quality provider in that market place to compete for other work.”

Work on transforming Care4CE began last year in light of new Government legislation which is designed to give people more control over the care and support they receive.

A total of 666 Care4CE employees responded to this year’s consultation, with the majority saying they would like to see a council-owned company set up as a social enterprise.

Cllr Janet Clowes, CEC’s Conservative group leader, was the cabinet member for health and adult social care before May’s election.

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She welcomed the idea that the move could open up Care4CE’s ‘high-quality service’ to residents who have previously been unable to access them.

Cllr Clowes said: “We have the potential to get the best of both worlds – to have a service that we still have adequate control of to maintain quality, and to see how that might actually expand and offer different services to improve choice for residents

“I see the new model of Care4CE actually there enabling us, not only to challenge other providers, but to hold them to account.”

A key aim of the move would be to bring in additional income by offering Care4CE services out to more people across the borough.

Since 2009, the Care4CE budget has been slashed from its original level of £32 million to £14 million today, while the council is facing increased demand for its services.

Cllr Suzanne Brookfield: “In an ideal world we would not be sat round this table discussing this way forward. Funding should come from central Government for care.

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“I do recognised the challenges especially with the environment we are in with regards to social care in respect of the demand for it and also the budgets.”

The Labour member emphasised that staff conditions would need to be prioritised in the new company, while her party colleague Cllr Rob Vernon suggested CEC ‘has a real opportunity if it’s brave’ to lead the way with care workers’ rights.

Cllr Laura Jeuda, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “We are not prepared to compromise on workers’ terms and conditions and I think the leader of the council has made that clear.

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“What we want is a service that is sustainable – and actually that is what people want.”

Following two years of work on the project, Mark Palethorpe, acting executive director of people, said he is ‘as confident as you ever could be’ that the move would be successful.