Labour’s thinking on social care took a surprise turn last week
when a government minister advocated community organisations
managing some social care services.
Public health minister Hazel Blears said that the move would
offer an innovative way of delivering services, giving local
people, particularly the poor, a greater say.
“A monolithic state sector that provides services in a uniform
way and is unresponsive to local communities will surrender its
popularity and will increasingly be disconnected, undervalued and
open to criticism,” Blears told a London conference organised by
Progress, a Labour modernisers’ think-tank. “There is a need for
neighbourhood management and neighbourhood ownership.”
She said community enterprises and businesses were starting to
develop “where there is a need for trust and a suspicion of the
profit motive”, and that these had particular relevance in
residential and child care and health and well-being. She saw
primary care trusts as a means of building “community
She added: “The kind of management I am talking about applies
more to social care than traditional medical services – it is what
social care should be all about.”
At the same conference former Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson
said that agencies like Sure Start were showing “not what the state
can do for the citizen but what the citizen can do for his or her
own neighbourhood or community”.