The government has provided hundreds of thousands of pounds to help council managers prepare for and influence the biggest overhaul of adult social care in recent history, in 2015.
The Department of Health is funding a Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services programme designed to prepare authorities for the implementation of the Care Bill and introduction of a £3.8bn pooled health and social care budget in April 2015.
The changes will throw up significant challenges to council managers and practitioners. The Care Bill will introduce several new or revised legal duties for councils covering care management, information and advice and safeguarding, and trigger a significant increase in the number of assessments practitioners will have to carry out every year. The £3.8bn integration transformation fund (ITF) will introduce payment by results for some aspects of government funding for local authorities for the first time, and require councils to introduce seven-day-a-week social care for people leaving hospital or at risk of an admission.
The LGA-based programme is designed to help council managers prepare for these changes and influence government policy in order to make implementation as smooth as possible. It will be led by Andrew Webster, who has taken on an expanded role at the LGA as director of health and care integration, supported by an assistant director of adult social care reform, who is due to be appointed next month. A number of LGA officers will be moved to the programme, whose DH funding level has not been disclosed but is somewhat in excess of £100,000, which is roughly the maximum salary for the assistant director’s post.
The job description for the assistant director’s role said they would negotiate with the government on behalf of the LGA and Adass to ensure that the Care Bill and associated regulations are shaped by sector knowledge and experience. The preferred candidate is likely to be a serving council senior manager.
“We will be looking at the [Care Bill] from the point of view of local authorities and their partners,” said Webster. “What have they got to do to be ready in 2015-16 to implement the changes.”
He said the programme would also work to develop “a clear set of guidance” for councils on how the integration transfer fund should be used. The programme will also support areas selected as “pioneers” to test new ways of integrating health and social care, under a separate government scheme.