The Care Act Programme Office (ADASS, DH & LGA) work in partnership to support the implementation of the Care Act. New duties in the Act say that the social care market must offer choice that delivers outcomes that improve well-being. The Act expects commissioning bodies to:
- Be cost effective: value for public money
- Understand the costs of differing care and support
- Understand the business environment and take actions that ensures market sustainability
Research indicates that this is a growing area of concern for local authorities given austerity and the financial imperative to save money set alongside the desire to provide excellent services.
It is certainly an area of concern for care providers. Care is not a homogeneous product; care users and care providers are infinitely diverse. Whilst there are common principles, the market relies on large numbers of smaller providers often offering niche services to small groups of people. The market is structured so that private businesses provide the service; private businesses can only continue if they see a return on investment. This pluralism needs to be nurtured if the well-being agenda is to be met.
The Chartered Institute for Public Finance have been commissioned to establish practical guidance too help. This is sorely necessary as new tendering and contracting frameworks are causing huge turbulence on the ground. They are asking for examples of good practice in costing and pricing that commissioners can share. Let's hope that new models have well-being at the heart of them, not a residual outcome after cost savings.