ARK’s reflection on the Adult Social Care Reform White Paper

A blog by Nick Sedgwick

The Adult Social Care Reform White Paper that was published on 1 December has received a mixed reaction. The Social Care Institute for Excellence welcomed the White Paper saying the proposals are consistent with the agenda of valuing people and supporting them to live the best lives they can. The Local Government Chronicle described it as more of a whimper than a bang.

However, the clear emphasis on housing must be a positive for a sector that has long argued the vital role that specialist housing and improving existing homes can play in enhancing the quality of life for individuals and reducing the pressures on health and social care. The document includes 116 references to housing. If you did a similar search on previous such documents you may be lucky to find 10 such references. There is also much mention of homelessness and community support.

The Government’s ambition is clearly stated with the aim to ‘make every decision about care a decision about housing’. This is at the forefront of providing the right care, in the right place at the right time. This section recognises the benefits of effective prevention to maintain independence and delay or avoid the need for residential care.

There is some new money; at least £300 million over the next 3 years to develop local strategies to connect housing with health and care and to drive new supported housing. The White Paper describes the aim of integrating housing into local health and care strategies, boosting the supply of specialist housing and funding improved services for residents. Realistically, we have heard similar ambitions previously. The White Paper recognises the critical role for Integrated Care Partnerships. However, it’s interesting to see that this emphasis on housing is not really reflected in the current recruitment to the Integrated Care Boards across the country.

The need for long term funding certainty is recognised to boost the supply of supported housing and to drive innovation in how services are delivered. The White Paper isn’t clear how this will happen but there is the commitment to work with a range of stakeholders to explore how to grow investment in both grant-funded and private supported housing, incentivising their supply. The document also mentions increasing the availability of supported housing by providing funding to local areas to modernise and improve existing housing. Again, there is no detail on how this will happen.

At this stage, there is no new money to stimulate housing supply. The White Paper looks to make best use of the existing Care and Support Specialised Housing fund and the Affordable Housing Programme.

It’s good to see that the existing level of funding for Disabled Facilities Grants will be maintained for the next three years. There is also a commitment to a new service to make minor repairs and changes in peoples’ homes. This comes as many home improvement agencies are really proving their value in helping people to maintain their independence and to reduce their reliance on health and social care services. The White Paper uses much of the right language and gives a real emphasis to the role of the housing. It is light on the detail of delivery but commits to work with the sector to inform the future direction. There appears to be the opportunity for the housing sector to build on the White Paper to build effective partnerships, to co-create.

This blog was written by our associate consultant Nick Sedgwick. ARK Consultancy has significant experience in developing and supporting effective partnerships across sectors, delivering innovative solutions, giving strategic focus on existing provision and proving the social value of housing and support services. Learn more on how ARK can support your organisation by contacting Helen Scurr – hscurr@arkconsultancy.co.uk.

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Nick Sedgwick

Nick is an ARK Consultant with a breath of experience working across local authorities, housing associations and non-departmental public bodies. Nick’s key areas of expertise lies in Housing management, homelessness and care & support

Nick also has experience in the full range of local authority housing responsibilities which include asset management and housing development. Nick is passionate about working in partnership to co-create solutions to improve the quality of life of residents.