Watchdog calls for mixed funding base

National Care Standards Commission chairperson
Anne Parker has warned that it may be unrealistic to expect the new
watchdog to pay for itself in the long term.

The commission, which goes live on 1 April,
has been given a substantial start-up grant, but the government
anticipates it will eventually become self-funding. According to
Parker: “At some point, when the market has stabilised, it’s not a
bad principle that we should earn our bread. However, there’s a
respectable argument that says there’s a public interest in what we
do, as well as a provider-sector interest. So a mixed funding base
may be a proper long-term objective.”

Parker also attempted to allay some of the
sector’s fears about the launch of the new body, arguing that the
commission would take time to find its feet. “The regulation and
inspection process is going to unfold gradually, and it’s going to
be front-loaded towards new registrations.” The watchdog would be
doing well if it was beginning to deliver consistent results by the
middle of its second year in operation, she added.

Its findings would feed into the evolution of
the national minimum standards, she said, while promising that any
“regulatory absurdities” will be raised with the government.

But she also sounded a note of caution about
the way the Social Services Inspectorate and commission operate,
arguing that in future their roles should be better co-ordinated
and that the two inspectorates should share information about areas
of concern. “I’m anticipating that the SSI will alert us to things
that they think we need to look at, and vice versa.”

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