Denise Platt, chair of the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, said earlier this month that it was very easy to read
the adult social
|Platt: Need to flesh
green paper out
care green paper and agree with it but that it would need to be
fleshed out in the consultation phase, writes Amy
Mona Sehgal, programme manager for the community wellbeing team
at the Local Government Association, agrees that it’s hard to
disagree with the document but points out that the Department of
Health has said that this is a “green green paper” and
therefore open to suggestions from submissions to the
It could be argued that this is unlike parts of the
children’s green paper that ex-children’s minister
Margaret Hodge often referred to as marbled rather than green and
was criticised by some as being too prescriptive.
Independence, Well-being and Choice aims to put service users in
control of their lives and create services that promote
independence rather than dependence.
In the document the government says that it expects local health
and social care services to work together with other voluntary and
statutory agencies to form commissioning partnerships to ensure
that the right balance of services is reached to achieve this but
how agencies go about it is left up to them. The only
government’s only stipulation is that doing nothing is
Sehgal welcomes the flexibility at a local level arguing that
each area has different issues and therefore needs to be able to
respond in their own way. She says that due to this any attempts to
impose structural solutions would have been wrong.
The green paper contains seven clear outcomes: improved health,
improved quality of life, making a positive contribution, exercise
of choice and control, freedom from discrimination or harassment,
economic well-being and personal dignity, that it wants users of
adult social care to achieve. Some of these go beyond the
traditional outcomes associated with social services and health but
Sehgal feels that they are appropriate. “If you think about
the broader preventive agenda, economic wellbeing is central to
that as is community safety,” she says.
The broader agenda is reflected in the separate government
consultation on the directors of adult social services position.
This suggests that they should take on a wide role taking
responsibility for areas such as housing and lifelong learning.
Sehgal sees it as a really “exciting opportunity” for
directors. “It would become a really interesting job and
really embraces the preventive agenda,” she adds.
The government says that support for the voluntary and community
sector is an “essential component” of its vision for
adult social care. Sehgal says that the sector’s engagement
is particularly important in terms of the green papers aims to give
service users more choice and more personalised services through
mechanisms such as direct payments and individualised budgets.
“Service users are going to want to choose more services
tailored to their needs that should lead to an increased demand in
specialist services,” she says.
Money, money money
The green paper controversially states that the government expects
its proposals to be “cost neutral” for local
authorities. It proposes that the policies can be funded by savings
made from providing better targeted low-level support before issues
reach crisis point. Like the Association of Directors of Social
Services, Sehgal argues that this will work in the long-term but
that some extra money at the beginning of the process is
|Byrne promises to fight for
She welcomes the care services minister Liam Byrne’s promise,
made at Community Care Live earlier this month, to argue
for more money in next year’s spending review to deliver the
paper’s proposals and says that the LGA’s submission to
the consultation will make a case for this.
The association’s submission will also highlight the
tension between recognised ways of saving money, such as regional
procurement of social care and block commissioning, and more
The government says that more needs to be done to create a
cultural shift amongst the whole of the social care workforce
towards supporting the wishes and human rights of service users. It
recognises that there is need to make social care an attractive
career but says that workforce recruitment and retention will
remain the responsibility of individual employers and Skills for
Care, the employer-led sector skills council, and asks for views on
how it should help employers to do this.
Sehgal says that the Department of Health have said that the
workforce part of the green paper is greener than the rest of it.
Although not mentioned in great depth in the proposals, she
predicts that volunteers will feature more in adult social care in
the future due to the increasing number of older people in
With the chancellor Gordon Brown committing £100 million
over the next three years to setting up a youth volunteering
framework in the budget in March there is evidence that ministers
are moving in this direction – even if they formally come out and
said it yet.