Opposition grows over plans to force councils to work with health bodies

    Local government leaders have warned ministers against compelling
    councils and health bodies to work together following reports that
    proposals for care trusts would be included in the adult social
    care green paper.

    With the government reportedly considering imposing a duty on
    councils and the NHS to set up care trusts to commission adult
    services, the Local Government Association said compulsion was
    unnecessary.

    David Rogers, chair of the LGA’s community well-being board, said:
    “Local government and health already work together successfully to
    provide integrated care services outside a statutory model. It is
    not necessary for care trusts to be made statutory to integrate
    social care services.”

    Association of Directors of Social Services president Tony Hunter
    also called for local flexibility. He said: “We are looking for a
    strong vision [in the green paper], clear outcomes and strong
    performance management frameworks, but with the mechanisms [to
    deliver these] left to localities.”

    Last month, a Department of Health source was reported as saying
    that the green paper would propose a statutory duty on councils and
    primary care trusts to co-operate in care trusts that would
    commission but not provide services.

    The speculation took local government leaders by surprise.

    One LGA source said: “It wasn’t something that we thought was going
    to happen. We are trying to make enquiries about whether it
    will be part of the green paper.”

    Existing care trusts, which were introduced on a voluntary basis by
    the Health and Social Care Act 2001, can commission and provide
    services, although only eight have been set up so far.

    Rogers said the LGA opposed dividing commissioning from provision,
    adding: “It could reduce the range of providers and damage the
    possibility of providing choice in social care.”

    It has emerged that the green paper has been further delayed. It
    had been expected this month, but will now be published in February
    because the government wants it to tie in with other initiatives.
    It had originally been set for launch last September.

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