Government care ‘vision’ underscores commitment to personalisation

Author: Jim Dunton, Local Government Chronicle   |  

The government has set a target for councils to offer personal budgets to one million social care service users by 2013 as part of its vision for social care, unveiled today.

Care services minister Paul Burstow said he wanted to see everyone eligible for a personal budget to receive one by that date, preferably as a direct payment.

Mr Burstow said implementation of personal budgets had been slow over the past 14 years and that if the same rate was duplicated it would take until 2096 for everyone eligible to receive one.

“We know that where personal budgets are in place people are more satisfied with the services they receive,” he said.

He added that councils could offer more choice, control and flexibility over the care people received.

The vision – which comes ahead of the Law Commission’s review of social care legislation and the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support – also includes:

  • Increasing preventative action to keep people independent;
  • Breaking down barriers between health and social care funding;
  • Encouraging individuals, communities, and the voluntary sector to play a role in the delivery of social care.

Some 1.6m people in England currently receive some form of social care via their council. Of those around one million are thought to be suitable for a personal budget.

Jeff Jerome, national director for social care transformation, said he believed the government’s 2013 target was achievable.

Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the seven key principles within the vision were ones that the association fully supported.

“We want to secure a radical realignment of the way resources are used across public services, including the health service, to deliver agreed outcomes through integration and collaboration,” he said.

Mr Jones said the vision would underpin and promote those changes.

David Rogers (Lib Dem), chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said personal budgets were a key part of the social care reform the LGA had long championed.

“Being able to make them available for anyone who wants one can only be a good thing,” he said.

But he added that the “multi-billion pound shortfall” councils expected in their care funding as part of the Spending Review left serious questions about the funding that was available to meet Whitehall targets.

In parallel to the social care vision, Mr Burstow also revealed £400m in funding for carers breaks would be part of the NHS’ additional Spending Review contribution to social care costs.

He also launched a consultation, Transparency in outcomes: a framework for adult social care, which looks at ways to improve the quality of services as part of the social care vision.

One are it focuses on is the future of adult social care performance reporting in the wake of the abolition of the Care Quality Commission’s Annual Performance Assessments.

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