Report calls for joined-up social care

25 Jul 02
A cross-party report has called for the government to support 'pioneering local initiatives' as well as more realistic funding to secure the future of social care.

26 July 2002

The report, commissioned by the County Councils Network, claims that the piecemeal way social services are funded is no longer sustainable.

It argues that health and social care's different performance management arrangements and funding vested interests are 'hugely counter-productive', but that improvements can be made without costly and unnecessary structural change.

The report, Vision for the future, was originally drawn up to influence the outcome of the Spending Review, and has been through a number of changes to ensure consensus among CCN members, and to share its findings with ministers.

Although the Spending Review commitments, and Health Secretary Alan Milburn's subsequent announcements, address some of the concerns raised, a network spokesman said they go nowhere near far enough.

The report, drafted by former social services director Brian Parrott, comes when care consultancy Laing & Buisson has just announced a loss of more than 13,000 elderly care places in 2001, and children's and learning disabilities services are under severe pressure. A number of county councils have recently received critical inspection reports.

Vision for the future also draws attention to particular issues faced by the counties and shires, such as low Standard Spending Assessment levels for large ageing populations, and acute staffing problems.

However, Parrott told Public Finance that many of these problems are widespread, and the solutions suggested by the report have general relevance.

These include greater collaborative working between health and social care, the independent and voluntary sectors, and local authorities.

The creation of primary care trusts and new strategic health authorities offer increased opportunities for integration and flexibilities between health and social care, the report says. The government should encourage this by introducing cross-sector freedoms and joint targets for earned autonomy.

'It's not just a case of saying "we want more money",' said Parrott. 'Now that the figures for social services have been announced, this report points to the best ways for the money to be used.'


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