The Commission was announced by Andrew Lansley on 20 July 2010 and said it would report back within 2 months on the criteria it would use to judge the proposals it develops.
That deadline passed 9 days ago, with no criteria published. Indeed, the Commission’s website has essentially not been updated for 71 days.
I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Health to find out more about the Commission. Below are highlights of the response I received, and I will publish the full version of the FOI response in due course.
Key points regarding personnel and budget:
- A number of individuals were considered to be members of the Commission. Information on who these are, though, is being withheld since it constitutes the personal data of third parties. This seems reasonable.
- Andrew Dilnot, the Chair of the Commission, is being paid £85,000 for the one-year duration of the Commission, based on working 3 full days per week.
- Dame Jo Williams is being paid £28,000 for one day a week, as is Lord Warner.
- There are 9 full-time equivalent civil servants supporting the Commission.
- The total budget for the Commission for 2010/11 is £2.33m (i.e. July 2010 – March 2011). The projected budget for the Commission for 2011/12 (i.e. April 2011 – July 2011) is £0.976m.
- Thus, the overall budget for the Commission is £3.306m.
- Taking out total costs of the Commission members (£141k), the budget remaining is £3.165m. Even if each civil servant working on the Commission on average took home £50k per annum, this would leave £2.715m budget for the Commission remaining.
Key points regarding meetings of the Commission:
- Since the Commission was set up, the Commissioners have met together, face to face, just twice.
- The Chair of the Commission has met in person just once with the Secretary of State for Health and the Minister for Care Services respectively.
- There have been no meetings with either of the external reference group or two independent expert panels. Indeed, members of the panels and reference group are still being finalised – announcements are to be “made shortly” on membership after final decisions have been made by the Commissioners.
- The Commission is to meet approximately weekly between now and mid-December. This includes a meeting tomorrow (30 September) and two further meetings before the date of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
- Agendas / papers / minutes of the Commission are not planned to be made publicly available.
There is plenty of interesting stuff above, which people are free to use as they wish (please attribute if you can).
For me, the most interesting is that the Commission has only met twice with each other since being set up, and not at all with any external reference or expert groups. Even if the criteria are being discussed at the Commission’s meeting tomorrow, how it can reasonably bring together the criteria against which to judge the future funding of social care in just 3 meetings is beyond me.
Again, I don’t want to be a pain in the arse about this. My view is that significant progress was made on this difficult issue with a discussion paper, Green Paper and White Paper in the last 9 months, as well as numerous other substantial publications from the Health Select Committee, the King’s Fund and ripfa. In my view it is therefore not appropriate that the vehicle designed to solve this issue, as well as establish it even as an issue, seems not to be driving forward its work in the way I think it should.