Reflections on the Public Accounts Committee recommendations
Two weeks into my new role with Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), I'm learning quickly just how the organisation takes hold of difficult issues and brings the social care sector together to unpick them and move forward.
This week's hot topic has been a report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about personal budgets in social care, which highlights the determination of politicians to make sure people who use services experience genuine choice and control. We welcome the committee's recommendations.
TLAP supports councils and providers to embed choice and control. A year on from implementation of the Care Act, we can see that much has been done but there is still plenty to do. Against a backdrop of reductions in funding for adult social care, we recognise the challenges this represents for councils
The committee's recommendations have helped to highlight aspects of personalisation that some organisations have found difficult to progress. It also offers focus and momentum to the personalisation agenda with a clear call to establish a solid evidence base for personal budgets.
TLAP is seen as a convenor of the sector helping to shape policy and share best practice across England. In this regard, we convened two roundtable events, following the publication of the National Audit Offices report into personalised commissioning earlier this year. These were attended by leads from across health, social care, the voluntary sector and people who use services .
The purpose of the roundtables has been to clarify how the sector can improve the evidence base for personal budgets and more will be scheduled later this year. Our findings will no doubt support meeting the recommendations in the PAC report.
Personally, I'm delighted that TLAP, along with partners and stakeholders, is supporting this piece of work. While we know that there is evidence to show the impact of personal budgets, we really do need to get smarter at measuring it.
Making It Real, produced by National Co-production Advisory Group members (NCAG), and the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET), published by TLAP, In Control and Lancaster University are tools which help the sector understand whether the principles of personalisation and personal budgets really do give people the choice and control that supports their wellbeing, and helps to make it real. The committee's recommendations will also provide a helpful steer for areas which haven't used these tools in the past.
Further work that commences, besides helping to strengthen the evidence base, must be co-produced to encourage practice and cultural change. This is a key ingredient to moving the agenda forward. In the words of NCAG members: "Nothing about us, without us".
Do you agree, and what do you see as the strengths and challenges for developing an evidence base for personal budgets?