What George Osborne has delivered is the prospect of some new money being raised in particular by local authorities and a £1.5 billion increase in the Better Care Fund.  Whilst this is welcome, it does not feel like a permanent solution. Our concern is that the areas most in need of investment will not be able to raise the extra funding needed, accentuating the regional disparities in services.  Will any new money that is raised really be sufficient to deliver the National Living Wage over the longer term?  For some providers, any increase in income will be lost to the new apprenticeship levy. So how should providers respond?

Enhanced local engagement

Social care providers have already been taking a long hard look at their services, area by area, to work out where they should focus and where it may not be viable to continue.  The potential for further funding for social care to be raised locally will increase the need for providers to have effective ways for working with and influencing local authorities’ commissioners and CCGs locally, recognising that a “one size fits all” approach across the country is unworkable.  This may need team members with new skills at a local level. Have you invested time in understanding the local market and building the necessary relationships? Have you identified who you should be collaborating with? Do you have the people who can do those things?  Can they come up with creative solutions?  Are they empowered to do so?

Increased efficiency

However adept providers become at influencing commissioning arrangements locally, the stark reality is that all providers are going to have to deliver greater efficiencies even if they already feel they are doing so.  We will be producing a checklist of efficiencies to consider but the reality is that it will be more than marginal changes that will be needed.  Providers will have to look at their whole service model and consider how it needs to adapt for the longer term.

Unleashing the innovators

The Care Act and the light touch procurement regime open the door to greater innovation in commissioning.  Providers who can unleash the innovators in their organisations to find creative solutions will be the most likely to be facing the future with confidence.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your future strategy in response to the sector challenges, please contact Matthew Wort, John Wearing, Emma Young or Anna Dabek for an informal discussion.