John Bolton, director of community services at Coventry Council, is to become the Department of Health’s strategic finance director at the end of the year charged with the task of monitoring social services spending and ensuring money is used efficiently.
He says the new role will be to gather evidence on the financial needs of social care for the next comprehensive spending review, to feed information and ideas about budgetary pressures into the upcoming social care green paper and to ensure councils continue to be committed to the efficiency agenda.
How councils apply eligibility criteria – or more specifically the fact many say the current funding settlement will force them to focus resources on the most needy clients – is likely to take up a considerable amount of Bolton’s time.
He explains: “I’ll be working very closely with authorities that are struggling as well as those who seem to have found ways of making the money go further.”
Bolton believes some authorities are ahead of others when it comes to making money go further. But he recognises the key to the eligibility debate is to “get the balance right” between the need for efficiency on the one hand and understanding the impact of demographic change on the other.