So service users have spotted the flaw in the government’s plans
to raise standards through the introduction of codes of conduct and
practice. The local authority sector is straining under the
pressure of under-resourcing, and eligibility criteria for services
are being tightened all the time.
It is all well and good to have new standards for staff
delivering the service, but one of the decisions they make every
day of their working lives is whether the individual before them
will receive a service at all. No doubt this rationing function
will be subject to standards too, and rightly so, though whether
this will make it easier to just say no is debatable.
The point – as users clearly recognise – is that performance
standards can only help those receiving the service. If you are one
of the unlucky excluded ones then they are meaningless.
Meanwhile, standards consume resources, both financial and
human. And the one thing we’re not measuring is unmet need. You
can’t argue with higher standards. Setting and measuring them is
only part of the story. Resourcing the standards is the missing