Headlines: September 24th, 2010

Councils are being given online help to assist in dealing with the pressures on councils and other care providers caused by Britain’s aging population. The Audit Commission has produced a new free, online finance improvement tool enabling authorities to respond to the financial impact of providing services for increasing numbers of older residents.

The Commission says funding for care of the elderly is in the news again following the call from the cross-party Commission on 2020 Public Services for increases in local public health and social care. The new tool is available on the Improvement Network website and is based on the challenge and review areas identified in the Commission’s February report ‘Under Pressure: Tackling the Financial Challenge for Councils of an Ageing Population.’

The tool works by assessing a council’s approach to the financial challenges of an aging population and identifying areas for improvement. It has been designed to be completed by a group, including the director of finance, the council’s lead officer on adult social care, other heads of services and commissioners. The Commission says it is user-friendly, with a ‘traffic light’ self-assessment scoring system against questions in three categories, ‘Taking a strategic view’, ‘Managing costs and Prevention’ and ‘Early intervention’. The system then creates an automatic report, highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

The hope is that discussion of these questions will help councils identify gaps and to plan a local response. Interested partner organisations can also use the questions from the tool to look at their own approach.