These days social care providers are subjected to too much regulatory activity, which is difficult to reconcile with the government’s aspirations for streamlined regulation.
For example, in the housing sector, Supporting People payments have resulted in councils using in-house accreditation units to monitor contracts and preferred provider lists. But this is already covered by other regulators. Most providers also have to contend with regulations and inspections covering planning, buildings, fire and health and safety.
Housing associations often monitor providers that operate in their properties.
Simplifying the position would involve separating out the different regulators and requiring them to work together in a spirit of co-operation. There are a minimum number of things that the regulators should agree to do.
For a start they should share information in an open fashion as this would avoid much dual regulation. They should also have the judgement to leave to the Commission for Social Care Inspection the things that are better suited to a national regulator.
The service users should be allowed to judge whether services are achieving the desired outcomes. This would save much form-filling and return control to where the adult social care green paper says it belongs.
And the regulatory procedures and systems used should be as uniform and consistent as possible.
Taking these things into account could save considerable time and money, and would focus councils’ minds on what should be of importance to them. Provider organisations and their employees would be clearer about what is expected of them.
The present regulatory situation is in fact a major challenge for central and local government.
How can the government convince social care stakeholders that they are serious about a seamless service if they cannot even decide who should be responsible for regulating what?
Steve Inch is chief executive of New Support Options and chairperson of Association for Real Change