The members of the government’s Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, announced today, bring a diverse range of experience to the task of sorting out the future funding of adult social care in England.
Dilnot’s appointment as chair seems designed to give the commission firm academic and economic credentials. Dilnot is a public finance expert and one of the country’s most prominent economists. He was director of respected think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 1991-2002. Since 2002, he has been principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, but has also served on a number of inquiries including the government’s probe into the balance of funding between central and local government, which reported in 2004. He is also a broadcaster and for many years presented the BBC Radio 4 programme on numbers and statistics, More or Less.
Williams’s appointment puts the social care sector at the heart of the commission. It is also a pre-emptive response to concerns that it will be dominated by the concerns of older service users rather than younger disabled adults, a charge levelled at Labour’s green paper on the issue last year. As chief executive of Mencap from 2003-8, Williams has championed the cause of younger adults, while she also has significant local government leadership experience. A trained social worker, she served as director of social services at Wigan and Cheshire councils and was president of the Association of Directors of Social Services from 1999-2000. She is currently acting chair of the Care Quality Commission.
The appointment of former Kent social services director and Labour health minister Lord Norman Warner gives the commission cross-party credentials but will also add a dose of hard-headedness to its conclusions. Warner led criticisms of Labour’s Personal Care at Home Act 2010, which promised to provide free personal care at home for people with high needs, on the basis that it was unaffordable. He is a committed public service reformer and, as minister for health from 2003-6, led reforms to introduce greater choice for patients and payment by results for providers in the NHS.