County Councils Network publishes report

February 11, 2021

A new report, The Future of Adult Social Care, launched by the County Councils Network (CCN), who represent England’s largest local authorities, argues strongly that social care should remain being delivered by local authorities rather than giving increased control to the NHS or central Government.  The CCN said 'thousands of people could live more independently if councils continue to deliver social care.'

Care specialists Newton, claim that only councils working with their partners - including the NHS and providers - can deliver a wide-ranging blueprint for services that supports individuals to live as independently as possible. The report outlines new ways of working and practices for local authorities, care providers and the NHS in what Newton terms an ‘optimised local delivery model’ for many of the 1.4m people who approach councils each year for local authority arranged care in England.

Newton said this can be achieved through a mix of interrelated improvements, including better long-term commissioning of residential and home care, greater collaboration between councils, the NHS and care providers, investment in reablement services, maximising the use of the voluntary and community sector and embracing digital transformation.

However, the report warns that this model can only be delivered if councils are given the clarity of a long-term funding model for care, due to be outlined in the Government’s long-awaited green paper and services remain under local democratic control. The Local Government Association estimate that by 2025 there will be a funding gap in adult social care of £3.6bn just to maintain services.

The County Councils Network has set out the following proposed benefits:

  • At least 90,000 additional older adults each year could benefit from greater access to short-term services, such as reablement, to reduce or prevent their need for long-term-care. This, coupled with services being more effective, could reduce care costs by £867m a year.
  • Around one fifth – 10,800 - of older adults who go into long-term residential care each year could be supported to live in a more independent setting, such as their own home. This could reduce long-term care costs by £178m a year.
  • Working age adults with learning disabilities outside of residential care receiving formal support could be enabled to develop the skills they need to live more independently. In turn, they could have their level of required home care support hours reduced by 8% on average – delivering £261m in savings per year.
  • Around 11,600 adults with learning disabilities who currently live in residential care could be living in a more independent setting, such as in supported living or with a Shared Lives carer. This could deliver £74m a year of reduced costs.
  • Greater collaboration between care providers and councils to tailor home care support around the individual, which maximises their potential for independence, could save £75m per year. At the same time, more use of voluntary and community sector services when adults approach social care could deliver a £95 million financial benefit per year.

The report suggests reforms could also be underpinned by a new, outcomes-based performance framework. In exchange for more funding, the framework would make clear the impact of funding decisions, highlighting areas of good and poor practice, and give central Government a new mechanism to monitor and support improvement.

Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said, ‘The evidence presented in this report is compelling: only councils, who know their populations and their providers, have the means to deliver improved social care services to keep people independent for longer. Social care is best delivered as a local service and local authorities have the connection to their communities to truly transform local care for the better.

‘This report recognises that if Government finally delivers sustainable funding for councils, we can work with health partners and care providers to deliver improved commissioning and financial benefits which could be reinvested in local services. In exchange for more funding and local decision making over services, a new co-designed performance framework could also help provide reassurance to Government that these improvements are being met.’

Daniel Sperrin, director at Newton, said, ‘To create the optimised model, we have engaged with over 150 individuals - including those working in the delivery of social care - but also health leaders; providers of care; policy colleagues, digital experts; and crucially those with lived experience of social care.’

Responding to the County Councils Network’s report – Gareth Lyon, Head of Policy and Communications at ARCO and a member of CCN’s Advisory Group, said, ‘Promoting the independence of older people and others in receipt of care needs to be at the core of a successful health system – this report is absolutely right to recognise that. Increasing numbers of county councils see housing-with-care, the fastest growing form of care provision in the UK, as a vital part of their provision in the decade ahead.

‘As well as backing local authorities to deliver for their communities, the Government must work with them and providers to remove the barriers to growth in forms of care such as these which keep older people healthy, well and independent for longer.’

Visit the County Councils Network to download the report in full.


The National Care Forum (NCF) presented results from its latest Pulse Survey at a press conference this morning.

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