Councils look forward to combining with trusts on health and social care

Councils and primary care trusts will be required to work together to produce strategic assessments of the health and social care needs of their local areas.

The move would put on a statutory footing the promise in last year’s health and social care white paper that councils and PCTs should produce 15-year assessments of population need, and was welcomed by council leaders.

The measures will be in an amendment to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, which received its second reading in parliament this week.

The priorities identified in the assessment will then form part of the overarching community strategy for the area and could then be supported by funding from local area agreements or other sources.

 Association of Directors of Social Services vice-president Anne Williams welcomed the fact the strategic assessments would be put on a statutory footing, and said they should involve the sharing of demographic data to predict future need.

She added: “This is a challenge for us all but we need to rise to that challenge and to have a shared duty to do that is good.”

She said the strategy should also inform joint commissioning, which the Commission for Social Care Inspection identified as needing improvement in this month’s state of social care report. A framework for joint commissioning between PCTs and councils is due out shortly.

Local Government Association social care adviser Tim Hind said: “Planning cycles (for local authorities and PCTs) have run differently and financial and other cycles have run not in sync with each other. Something that will synchronise all of that will be a good thing.”

Implementation plan
The Department for Communities and Local Government also unveiled its implementation plan for the bill this week. Local area agreements, which tie government funding to agreed local targets, will be put on a statutory footing from April 2008, and will be funded as a single pot in the same year.

Further information
Local Government Bill

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 Simeon Brody

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