Councils that fail to deliver on personalisation could face government or Care Quality Commission intervention if they refuse support from within the social care sector to improve.
This warning came from Richard Jones, the outgoing president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and co-chair of the Think Local, Act Personal Partnership (TLAP), a sector coalition launched this week to develop personalisation.
Benchmarks are being developed to judge councils’ progress on personalisation by the partnership, which includes user, carer, council and provider leaders and the Department of Health.
Councils that fail to hit the mark face an unspecified form of intervention.
Local authorities would be expected to report on their progress against the benchmarks, in line with the government’s emphasis on authorities taking greater responsibility for their own performance management.
However, Jones said: “At some point it could be that after they refuse support to improve, the concerns are such the sector holds up a yellow card and says it’s over to the DH and the minister responsible and he uses his residual duties to intervene if he deems the situation requires it.”
The warning comes amid growing concerns that some councils are already reducing choice and control for users by making cuts to personal budgets or restricting what they can be spent on, while also cutting personalisation teams.
It is not clear what the benchmarks would look like, but they may coincide with measures in the government’s social care outcomes framework, issued last month, such as the proportions of service users on personal budgets or who find it easy to access information on care.
The government wants all users on personal budgets by 2013.
The TLAP partnership succeeds the Putting People First consortium that has overseen the roll-out of personalisation since 2008. TLAP has a much wider membership but will be operating in a far tighter funding environment.
Though it is receiving £500,000 from the DH out of a total budget for 2011-12 of £750,000, there is no central government funding for councils to implement personalisation from 2011 onwards, compared with £520m from 2008-11.
However, Jones’s fellow co-chair, Miranda Wixon, said its wide membership meant it would have an impact.
“If the government does ignore us it will be at its peril,” added Wixon, who is also chair of the Care Providers Alliance.
Jones added: “Putting People First never really got full sector sign up and engagement, which we need.”
The partnership intends to commission work on how to deliver personalisation in an era of austerity, how to roll out personalisation to all and how to make sure personal budgets deliver choice and control.
Richard Jones and Miranda Wixon will be speaking on TLAP at Community Care Live on 19 May
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