Impact of the new social care reforms
The planned October 2023 social care reforms are set to bring sweeping changes to the social care funding landscape through the introduction of a revised funding threshold and a care cap. This is the third in a series of articles exploring what the reforms mean and their potential impact. We looked previously at the difficulties of predicting the cost of the proposed reforms. We also explored the potential challenges that the health and social care reforms would bring.
In this article, we want to examine how local authorities can prepare for the changes. Time is of the essence and this will be especially true in some places, as the latest impact assessment provided for certain areas to undertake “trailblazer initiatives”. The purpose is to road-test the impact of the new reforms, and ultimately help ensure a smooth rollout across the rest of the country.
We will explore how using digital tools in social care finance can make a huge difference in helping local authorities plan for the new social care reforms.
Moving local authority services online
Over the past 10 years, there has been a tangible shift towards self-service tools through the digitisation of council services. The government transformation strategy 2017 to 2020 had at its heart the vision of:
Putting greater power in the hands of citizens by using online tools and techniques to help public bodies better understand what citizens need.
The long-awaited social care white paper was also clear that local government could benefit by harnessing the power of digital tools in the social care sphere. The white paper pledged to provide:
At least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care.
Considering the shift to self-service, and the impending social care reforms, a key step for local authorities could be to move a greater variety of relevant council services online. With an increasingly tech savvy generation either requiring care, or providing care for loved ones, citizens will want to administer and view their care digitally.
Furthermore, the workload for local authorities will only increase as more service users become eligible for funding:
- Anyone with over £23,250 in savings, but less than £100,000 will now need a financial assessment
- Anyone in receipt of eligible care will need to “register” for their care account and record their outgoings
The pressure is on, as set out in the white paper:
Before the cap comes into effect, local authorities need to work to identify people who currently meet their eligible needs themselves, to ensure that they can begin progressing towards the cap from the point it comes into effect.
Social Care Finance Online
Uncertainty still prevails over whether the “care account” itself will be managed by central government or by the local authority. It is worth remembering that the online journey should not be limited to care account alone. At OCC we believe that a sure-fire way to manage the additional workload would be to transform the customer journey by moving much of it online. We offer online solutions which can help to digitise the following stages:
- Initial assessment identifying whether a citizen has eligible care needs that would entitle them to financial support. Find out more about how Surrey successfully transformed their customer journey by moving financial assessments online.
- Financial assessment identifying what level of contribution a citizen needs to make towards their care while their spend increases towards the £86k cap
- Care selection and the contracting of services whether; via the local authority, as a direct payment recipient; or as a self-funder (prior to reaching the cap)
- Statements of account, allowing service users and their family to see how much they have paid or owe for services, and managing any deferred payment agreement (where the local authority has offered a loan against the property to pay for their social care)
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