Regulatory system faces overhaul to give service users a greater say

The regulatory system is set for a major shake-up, social services
chiefs were told last week.

David Behan, chief executive of the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, said the framework failed to deliver the full picture
of service users’ experiences of social care.

This shortcoming seriously limited how well vital judgements on
services, outcomes and improvement could be made, he told the
national social services conference in Newcastle upon Tyne.

“People want regulation based on frequent inspections, unannounced
visits and inspectors spending more time talking to people,” Behan

He said the number of inspections had already been cut from 165 in
2002 to 75 this year, and that these would be made jointly with
other inspectorates from next year.

Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred backed the move
towards fewer inspections and more joint working.

“The Audit Commission is among those who believe that it [the
inspection regime] has gone too far,” he said. “We now have a
confusing array of methodologies and in some cases ideologies. We
are in favour of some rationalisation.”

But he insisted that there was no prospect of an end to inspection
“because it works”.

Bundred added that, despite initial scepticism about the
introduction of the comprehensive performance assessment, the
outcome of the first round was that most people believed the
process was generally credible and had been a “positive stimulus
for improvement in authorities”. He promised a stronger element of
self-assessment in the CPA from 2005.

At the same session, David Bell, chief inspector of schools at
education watchdog Ofsted was asked how Ofsted would cope with the
conflict between schools’ academic achievements and the way they
supported and included children with special educational needs or
behavioural problems. He said that there would inevitably be
“policy tensions”.

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