An independent assessment service for social care is to be explored
in the government’s consultation on the future of adult
services, community care minister Stephen Ladyman has said,
writes Amy Taylor.
In an exclusive interview with Community Care, Ladyman said he saw
“the problem” as councils being both the gatekeepers to
services through assessments and controllers of the purse
“Although most councils do it diligently – and I am
sure most social workers do – I have no doubt they often feel
constrained by the budget that is available rather than by actually
identifying properly what your care needs are,” he said.
However, he recognised that an independent assessment service would
have big challenges associated with it as “an infinite pot of
money” was not available.
John Dixon, social services director at West Sussex, who is doing
work on the government’s “vision” for the future
of social care for the Association of Directors of Social Services,
said an independent assessment service could send budgets
“through the roof”. This would result in either the
government having to meet the bill or allow council tax to be
uncapped, he added.
Dwayne Johnson, the ADSS lead on the single assessment process for
older people, said there was no evidence that, where assessments
were carried out by independent bodies, as occurs in some
children’s services, there had been improvements in
Ladyman added that the government also wanted a social care system
in the future where partners, such as councils and the NHS, paid
different parts of the bills.
He went on to propose an alternative system to direct payments.
Clients would have a personal account detailing the budget and
would be consulted on how it is spent, even if the service was
provided by the council.
Frances Haslar, chief executive of the National Centre for
Independent Living, said: “A system of individualised
budgets, made explicit to the user, with users getting a say in how
they are spent, is a helpful and potentially empowering