Headlines: June 13th, 2000

A new report claims that one of the Cinderella public services – supporting older people in later life – can be provided better and cheaper.The Government clearly feel it makes a case for greater central intervention with locally-provided services to drive up quality.

Out in the Open, a report from the Public Services Productivity Panel (PSPP), addresses the issue of how to help older people continue living independently by looking at the way support services are commissioned.

Local Authorities spend over 6 billion pounds each year on personal services for adults but costs vary from council to council – often significantly. Improved commissioning, says the report, will not only result in a wider choice of better quality services but will also offer substantial efficiency savings.

Four pilot sites were used for the project. All experimented with new ways of working which made rapid changes and a real difference to the lives of older people.

The report found that its close scrutiny of such services raised their profile with the agencies tasked to provide them, and that multi-agency commissioning is still under-developed

The Government’s aim is to move away from a local authority preference for caring for people in care homes by making it more cost-effective for them to be supported in their own home.

It sees the report as a mandate for Central Government to engage more directly with managers and professionals, to help them provide better services at lower cost.

The PSPP’s role is to advise the Government on ways of improving the productivity and efficiency of Government departments and public sector bodies