Delivering efficiencies in spite of the social care reform delay
Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement has confirmed the delay of the introduction of the social care reforms for two years. Imosphere's Chief Operating Officer, Natalie Kenneison, comments on the challenges the delay brings and highlights how Imosphere will adapt to ensure local authorities can manage demand, and drive efficiencies and savings.
The delay, though disappointing, does bring much needed additional funding of £1 billion in 2023 and £1.7 billion in 2025. This will enable local authorities to reinvest significantly into frontline care services to help protect the most vulnerable in our society and buy councils vital time to try to stabilise the care system. However, it will be vital for local authorities to continue planning and preparing for the long term as public sector spending is likely to face a multilayer funding squeeze from 2025.
Financial and operational stability for LAs
Imosphere’s past product developments in adult social care have been instrumental in helping many local authorities stay financially sustainable while keeping people and fairness at the forefront. This has remained a key driving force in our recent ‘Version 9’ release and will continue to be our raison d’être.
Our suite of adult social care solutions has been designed to help tackle new and evolving challenges, as well as help local authorities meet the challenges of the now-delayed funding reforms through:
- Better management of citizen demand and scarce resources.
- Creating much-needed operational efficiencies and cost savings.
- Providing transparency and reporting for a streamlined and defensible approach to budget allocation.
- Facilitating the ability to embed resource allocation alongside strengths-based approaches.
Regardless of the delay to the reforms, we know from recent conversations with many local authorities (both existing and prospective customers) that implementing new ways of working – including self-assessment and the use of trusted assessors – is being seen as an essential strategy in helping to manage ever-increasing pressures on budgets. These strategies will make the most of experienced staff’s time and will save money in the long-term.
Imosphere remains committed to the release of our new self-assessment tool, and several LAs have already indicated they wish to go ahead with testing and implementation. The tool will be made available for wider release in late spring 2023 as planned.
Accuracy, resource allocation and personal budgets
The delay of the social care reforms provides an opportunity for local authorities to thoroughly consider their methodology for resource allocation, ensuring it is well established and embedded for Personal Budgets (PBs) to later support the introduction of Independent Personal Budgets (IPBs).
Given the continued pressures on funding and budgets, local authorities need to consider the fiscal impact of inaccuracy when allocating money for care and support. Analysis we have carried out in the past has shown that Formulate, Imosphere’s Resource Allocation System (RAS) does allow for greater efficiency savings compared to one with lower levels of accuracy, or the use of a traditional ‘ready reckoner’ approach.
For example, in a study where Formulate was compared to a local ‘points make prizes’ style RAS using a real sample of adults with care needs, the impact of more widespread and larger under and over allocations in the local RAS was projected to lead to a large ‘overspend’ – whereas using Formulate would lead to savings.
This study demonstrated that a properly developed RAS provides a fair, robust, sustainable, and accurate method of allocating budget according to need. This includes being much fairer and more sustainable than traditional social care assessment methods which do not allow for spend prediction in this way. Formulate has been used for many years by local authorities across England to help them accurately target their resources in an equitable manner, ensuring that money goes where it is needed the most.
Key issues facing the entire social care sector include recruitment, retention, and budget constraints, bringing with it continued and new challenges for local authorities. The right technology and tools can be leveraged to help improve the way authorities operate by speeding up processes, improving productivity, reducing errors, and enabling more flexible operations and use of resources (people and monetary). Imosphere will continue to ensure our tools support local authorities in the most effective ways to ensure that together, we can better serve the public and overcome the key issues facing the entire social care sector.