Hundreds of libraries, care homes and leisure facilities in the West Midlands could be saved if they were placed in the hands of social enterprises according to a leading expert in the field.

Kevin Maton,. from Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM), believes the sector has plenty of existing organisations that have the necessary skills, structure and innovation to help serve vital public services set to be reduced by unavoidable cuts in public spending.

The network director called for local authorities and central government to explore this approach before making decisions that could hamper the everyday lives of tens of thousands of people in the region.

He cited Halo Leisure as a prime example of how it could work, with the organisation taking over sports and leisure facilities in Herefordshire when the council was no longer able to prioritise funding for these services.

“Social enterprises, by their very nature, are ideally suited to serve the community so why not widen their focus to take on public services that may fall victim of the public sector spending cuts,” he said.

“Their governance structures ensure they are focused on both quality, delivery and meeting the needs of the local area and, more often than not, they will use innovative thinking to actually improve the way these organisations are run.”

He added: “All of the community libraries in Birmingham are under review for example so why not give social enterprises the chance to make a difference. The same could be said about care homes, youth projects and museums, the list is endless.

“The other positive spin off is that a good number of public sector jobs could be secured by social enterprises, retaining valuable skills in the process.”