THIRD SECTOR SET TO PROVIDE MORE SOCIAL CARE
Significant opportunities for the third sector to increase its provision of publicly-funded adult social care have been identified in an independent report commissioned by the Department of Health. The department is seeking to cultivate a larger and broader range of providers to increase capacity, encourage innovation and improve user responsiveness. The report estimates a 9% growth in the next year.
Local authorities spent 13.7bn pounds on adult social services in 2004/05, with 1.5bn pounds or 11%, delivered by the third sector. This represents some16% of local authority expenditure on services delivered by external organisations.
Many third sector organisations are delivering high quality, patient focussed and efficient services, often because they have a better understanding of clients’ needs and respond to those needs in a more flexible way than organisations in the public or private sectors. But the report makes it clear that the increased share of the adult social care market is not assured and potential third sector providers need a good understanding of commissioners’ plans and processes, they need to think strategically about the ways in which they should attempt to develop their activities and they need to market their services to the relevant individuals and demonstrate the ability to deliver value for money.
Also local authorities need to respond positively with those who commission services gaining a good understanding of existing and potential provision by the third sector. They also need to place less reliance on the track record of potential providers because this reduces the ability of bidding organisations to broaden their activities. Taking more calculated risks when selecting providers would enable organisations to develop their existing portfolio of services.
The report will be used to inform the work of the Third Sector Task Force which was set up in 2005 to tackle barriers that prevent the sector from achieving its full potential.