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Social Care

Volume 710: debated on Monday 18 May 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks are made to ensure the social care system is working efficiently. [HL3532]

Monitoring of adult social services' efficiency in England is undertaken by a number of organisations: the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as part of its role as the independent health and social care regulator, the Audit Commission, and the Department of Health.

The CQC was established by the Health and Social Care Act (2008) and replaced the Commission for Social Care Inspection, as well as the regulators for healthcare and the Mental Health Act. Under the provisions of the 2008 Act, the CQC carries out a number of activities related to the regulation of local health and social care services, including registration of providers to ensure minimum quality standards are met, regular reviews of providers and commissioners of services, and inspections of particular care services.

The CQC undertakes periodic reviews of all local authority adult social services, and publishes its assessment of the quality of those services, and their capacity to deliver improved outcomes for local people. This judgment includes a specific criterion on the local authority's efficient use of resources to meet the needs of its local community.

The CQC's assessment of adult social care is further used as part of the evidence base for the annual comprehensive area assessment (CAA) published by the Audit Commission. The CAA, which will be published for the first time in October 2009, brings together the assessments of six national regulators to form an overall judgment of the delivery of public services in a locality. It will publish an area assessment (providing an overall judgment on the locality) and an additional organisational assessment of the local authority management. This latter assessment will make a scored judgment on two corporate areas: managing performance and use of resources, and so will contribute towards the checks on efficiency in adult social care.

The Department of Health also works to support efficiency in adult social care, and has put in place a number of programmes to help local authorities achieve efficiencies. For instance, the Care Services Efficiency Delivery programme has invested about £5 million per year to specifically support the local efficiency agenda through working with local authorities to improve planning and procurement, developing more efficient systems for the assessment and delivery of care with a strong focus on re-ablement and recovery. Additionally, the Partnership for Older People Projects have supported 19 local pilot programmes to develop a wide range of innovative services and focus on early interventions to reduce long-term care needs.