THE county council will not be renewing its contract with Babcock Prime next year after cabinet agreed to incorporate education services into the new company running children's social care.

Worcestershire County Council announced it would be ending its contract with the education services and training provider as councillors endorsed plans to merge social care and education in the county.

The contract between the county council and Babcock Prime was signed in 2015 and is due to run out next year and the council has decided to let the contract run its course.

The contract is one of the council's biggest and delivers a number of key educational services including admissions, early years and childcare and careers advice as well as services for children with autism and complex communication needs.

Babcock Prime also provides training and services to schools across Worcestershire alongside its contract with the county council.

The company currently employs 120 people to provide the council's services who would be transferred back once the contract has ended.

At a cabinet meeting on Thursday (March 14), Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member for children and families, said the plans to merge children's social care and education services into Worcestershire Children First - the new 'wholly-owned' company running the county's children's services - meant it was the right time to look at the contract.

Cllr Simon Geraghty, leader of the county council, said: "When you go through a commissioning process you look at what the best fit is for the time.

Cllr Geraghty said it was "highly rational" to believe that services would change over time and it now made sense to bring the services into the new wholly-owned company as they were the "best fit for the moment."

Whilst the government dictated to the council that it must find a new way to run children's social care, the council has made its own decision to bring education services under the remit of Worcestershire Children First.

The council said the merger would give it a single focus on improving the lives of children in the county.

Cllr Fran Oborski said she was glad the council was not renewing its contract with Babcock Prime and said there was a strong argument for terminating the contract before 2020.

She said: "Babcock is not popular with schools. You only have to look at how academies behave.

"As soon as they get academisation they cancel as much work with Babcock as they can."

Worcestershire Children First is expected to be up and running in shadow form by April and properly by October.