A charity from Greater Manchester has won an £11.7m contract to help run Kingston’s learning disability services.
Kingston Council has entered into a five-year agreement with Pure Innovations, a national disability charity based in Stockport.
The organisation owns 50 per cent of Surbiton-based community interest company Balance, which formed in May last year out of the embers of Kingston Workstart and Asperger Syndrome Service.
Under the new agreement, services including supported living, respite care, transport, work projects and a residential care home will be transferred to Balance by June 2014.
A total of 51 council staff will also move over to Balance’s payroll, although they will still be based in council offices and receive a pension form the local authority.
Pure Innovations will act as a 'parent' company, providing back office functions such as Human Resources and offering advice and support to staff.
Andrea Biggs, chief executive of Balance and former manager of Kingston Workstart, said: “I think it’s very exciting.
“I don’t think people will notice any significant change in the day-to-day operations.
“Staff emails will change, the system they report on will change, and their pay cheques will say Balance instead of Kingston Council.
“But in terms of location and job description, everything will be the same - they will still get a pension from Kingston Council.
“What is different is we’re separate from the council and it’s given us the opportunity to be more creative, innovative, and quicker to respond.
“Within the council that was harder to do because there are a lot of policies to follow and things to write up.
“But here it is our decision, and if we’ve got enough evidence to show the customer needs something we can just try it out.
“I think the staff will find the challenge very exciting, and have a real sense of ownership.”
Balance was launched on May 1 last year, and quickly became part of the Pure Innovations group.
The not-for-profit company helps people in Kingston with learning disabilities and mental health issues find work and live independent lives.
After winning the contract from the council, it will now manage Woodbury residential home in Kingsdowne Road, Surbiton, which is home to 14 people with learning disabilities.
It will also oversee a range of work projects, including a sandwich delivery business at Guildhall and the running of Victoria Park cafe, in the pavilion in Victoria Park in Surbiton.