COUNCILLORS have given the green light to plans for a joint social care project across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole.

Dorset County Council’s cabinet agreed in principle to form a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) in partnership with Bournemouth Borough Council and the Borough of Poole.

The cabinet had already agreed to form the company, the first of its kind in the UK, but were asked at the meeting at County Hall in Dorchester to agree to plans to extend the project across all three councils.

The LATC is expected to save around £7.5m over a five-year period, which Cllr Jill Haynes, cabinet member for adult social care, said was a ‘pessimistic forecast’.

She added: “One of the benefits this pan-Dorset LATC has is the potential for greater staffing capacity. We are struggling at the moment to find good, qualified staff.

“It will also make sense for those living on the borders between authorities.”

The joint company will avoid the issue of two separate LATCs, one serving Dorset and one serving the conurbation, being in competition with each other, Cllr Haynes added.

The business plan for a joint LATC, which will have a budget of almost £37m, has now been approved in principle by all three authorities, and, subject to the outcome of a public consultation and formal approval in February, the company is expected to launch during the 2015/16 financial year.