SHROPSHIRE’S highly rated adoption service is to be shared across four council areas.

Shropshire Council has backed integrating the service into a single adoption partnership for West Mercia.

The current combined Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin service is one of the top performing services in the country.

But new powers under the Children and Families Act can see council's not performing appropriately having their role as adoption agencies withdrawn.

A longer term proposal allows the recruitment and training of adopters to be transferred to the voluntary sector.

The four local authorities in the West Mercia region - Herefordshire Council, Worcestershire County Council, Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council - have recognised that working together is the best opportunity to meet the national agenda, on the basis of a similar approach taken by what is now the West Mercia Youth Offending Service.

Amalgamating the adoption services includes the possibility of bringing in a private or voluntary sector partners with scope for significant service savings across the region.

The new arrangements will be developed within a budget of £439k and using a specific adoption reform grant.

Consultation with staff and trade unions over the change is the stage with potential liabilities for any redundancy and retirement costs met by each council.

Otherwise, staff would transfer under employment protection regulations.