Ahead of publishing the Care and Support Green Paper early in 2009, the Department has been raising awareness of existing social care services while seeking views about future care and support services. A six-month public engagement process was established this year in order to gather views and comments from stakeholders, service users and members of the public which will help inform next year's Green Paper. In addition, we achieved media coverage both national and regional, and worked with stakeholders to obtain coverage in their communication channels, including newsletters and websites. Once the process of analysing the responses has been finalised, plans will be made to publish a report of the responses received alongside the Green Paper.
The ‘Putting People First’ initiative was set-up in 2007 as a concordat with other Government Departments and range of stakeholders from the care sector. This identifies a key role for local government in providing access to information, advice and advocacy (where it is needed) in enabling people to exercise choice and control over their lives.
We recognise the importance of research to support development in this area, which is why we have invested in the Partnership for Older People Projects and the work of the Care Services Efficiency and Delivery Team on enablement. Both of these provide an evidence base on the most effective forms of early intervention and this work is continuing.
The Government have also published “Improving Health and Work: changing lives” on 25 November 2008, which is our vision to create a society where the links between work and health are recognised by all, where everyone aspires to a healthy and fulfilling working life and where health conditions and disabilities are not a bar to enjoying the benefits of work. A copy of the publication has been placed in the Library. This includes evidenced based policy work on early intervention, for example ‘fit for work’ pilots. These aim to help people back to or remain in work when they develop a health condition or impairment. We are testing a range of services to provide support for people who develop health conditions.
The responsibility for delivery of social care and ensuring that social care needs are met rests with local authorities. The Department provides the policy framework to support local authorities in meeting their statutory requirements.
Local authorities have reported a continued increase in social care expenditure. Last year (2007-08), provisional data show that local authorities reported gross current spend on adult social care services was £15.6 billion. This has increased by 85 per cent. over the last 10 years.
From 2008-11, the Department has committed to contributing over £3.5 billion into adult social care services specific revenue grants and the area based grant (ABG—this enables flexibility for local authorities to make decisions concerning local priorities, of which social care is one, and delivering public services). This is an average increase of over 10 per cent. per year from the Department.
The Department will continue to work collaboratively with local authorities and their representative bodies, other Government Departments (working across the boundaries of social care, health, housing and employment), service users and other key stakeholders to evaluate the risks and opportunities to support the delivery of social care. The vision for social care is laid down in “Putting People First”, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library. This document was signed by six Secretaries of State and a range of key stakeholders from local government and partner bodies. The Department is now working with all of these stakeholders to support the delivery of that vision. The Department is investing more than half a billion pounds in developing more personalised care services through the Social Care Reform grant.