This post is one of a series of reflections on the Right to Control Trailblazer work in Essex over the last few months. For an overview of the work, and an introduction to this post, please see the opening post of this series.
In the present climate, one of the drivers for this work has got to be understanding how joining up the work makes it more effective, both in terms of service user outcomes and in terms of the resources used.
To concentrate on the latter, one area we’re currently working on is the cash quantification of a particular service. Once this has been done it is then possible for a service user to have much more control over the services they choose to use, or more to the point the way in which they choose going about meeting their identified outcomes. For example, if Access to Work would fund a taxi for a service user to and from work, it could be possible to give that individual the cash equivalent of those taxi journeys if they can still show they will successfully get to and from work. This ultimately means more choice and control for the service user in meeting the same outcome.
In the first instance, the process challenge this presents is associating service user outcomes with particular pots of money. Once that has successfully been done, the issue then becomes one of attributing service user outcomes to particular pots of money.
Assuming this has been done, and the two processes of assessment and support planning mean that it should be relatively straightforward, the absolutely vital question is this: if a service user has achieved outcomes for less than the pot of money allocated to them, who gets the savings? The main options are (a) the service user, (b) each individual agency, or (c) the collective agencies. For various reasons, I suspect (a) is not a feasible option (though it should be). But cases (b) and (c) are both difficult in principle and doubly-difficult in practice to achieve.
The corollary to this are those occasions in which savings made in one area affect the overall level of resource an individual receives. This could then have a negative knock-on as to what other resources they could receive, since some rely on thresholds being passed before funding is available (e.g. Independent Living Fund is only available to individuals who already receive a certain amount of adult social care funding). I very strongly suspect this won’t be allowed to happen, but it’s certainly a potential unintended consequence that has to be looked at and worked on very carefully to ensure it isn’t allowed to happen.