Councils to test Supporting People changes
Local authorities are to begin piloting new approaches to delivering Supporting People services from this summer.
The Communities and Local Government department-backed trials will see authorities putting out contracts on a payment by results basis, and introducing personalised budgets.
Lorraine Regan, head of strategy and policy for Supporting People announced the pilots at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference and exhibition in Harrogate.
She said local authorities will begin introducing payment by results models this summer, and will pilot these for two years. The approach will be evaluated, and if it is successful will be rolled out to other local authorities, although Ms Regan said the approach would not become compulsory.
Under the pilots providers will be offered contracts with around 80 per cent of the value paid up front. The remainder will be paid at the end of the contract, subject to the provider meeting agreed targets.
Ms Regan said: ‘We hope it will deliver better services, but that is why we are carrying out the full evaluation.’
The pilots of personalised budgets will begin later in the year, and will be piloted in around 10 local authorities. These will see care users given much greater control of how money is spent on their services.
‘It is about doing things very differently, looking at the wider implications of how we can deliver personalisation,’ Ms Regan said.
An evaluation of the personalisation pilots is expected to be complete early in 2012.
Payment by results and personalised budgets are central to a new approach to Supporting People adopted by CLG.
‘We’ve thought long and hard about how Supporting People can fit into public sector reform,’ Ms Regan said. ‘There are some concerns that now the funding has gone into formula grant CLG is taking a step back. But the reality is we have never had that control over how local authorities have spent the funding.
‘There is still going to be a policy team at the centre, and the areas that we will be focusing on are payment by results and the personalisation agenda.’
Speaking ahead of Ms Regan, Domini Gunn, director of public health and vulnerable communities at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the institute is concerned cuts to Supporting People could be ‘self defeating’.
‘What concerns the CIH is the impact of these cuts, but also the way cuts are being carried out,’ she said.
‘The level of thought and level of consideration is not necessarily being exercised in the way that it should that allows people to make those important decisions about impact on other service areas.’