When 50% of Adult Social Care Directors suggest current delivery models will lead to service shortages and financial difficulty, then the sector is clearly ripe for change. Couple this with the fact that the population aged 85 or above is set to double over the next 20 years, and the scale of the challenge is clear. We have selected five key challenges that councils must overcome. Yet against all odds, local government is starting to find its way, with innovative solutions being implemented across the country.

  1. Health & Social Care Integration

Health and social care integration can increase quality and reduce costs for both health and social care sectors.

Integration is already beginning to work. Calderdale’s ‘Gateway To Care’ is a positive example of a joined up NHS/LA approach. The service acts as a first point of contact for customers, and can divert people towards low-cost ‘preventative’ intervention. Of the 37,000 customers who entered the service, 97% received short-term support without the need for further care.

However, problems are emerging with integration. Some suggest that half the money being transferred from the NHS to councils has been used to protect care services from cuts, rather than driving integrated care. Quantifying the financial benefit of the Better Care Fund is also proving challenging.

  1. Data

Good data means good decision-making. The process within Local Authorities for compiling user data is cumbersome, with many different statutory returns filling the entire calendar. The data in many cases is difficult to interpret. However, ‘Big Data’ solutions are more readily available now than in previous years.

  1. Customer-focused services

Councils have thousands of stakeholders and are using new tools to understand their customers, such as customer journey mapping in Teignbridge Council. This enables councils to understand the expectations and needs of their customers. From this, councils have a clearer idea of what services should be provided, and the method by which staff and customers want them to be delivered. Customers want greater empowerment. In the most recent Adult Social Care Survey, only 32% of people suggested they had as much control over their lives as they wanted. Re-orienting services towards the customer is a key way in which satisfaction can be increased.

  1. Flexible working

Social care workers often find the sector inflexible. This can affect user satisfaction and productivity. 8% of social workers are considering leaving their jobs, with a significant proportion attributing stress as one of the primary reasons. However, some councils are making reforms in this area. Frontline social workers from Southend’s adult social services department were given laptops in order to enable them to administer support assessments at the service user’s home. This has significantly cut bureaucracy and duplication, and improved staff satisfaction.

  1. Commissioning & Procurement

Many councils are moving to being commissioners rather than providers of services, and Adult Social Care is no different. In the same ADASS survey mentioned above, 90% of those surveyed felt that an effective procurement strategy is necessary to make the service sustainable and achieve savings.

Commissioning on outcomes can maximise value and cut costs. For example, Wiltshire’s Help to Live at Home pays providers on an outcomes basis, with fines for missing customer-measured targets, and rewards for exceeding expectations. The scheme has saved £11.6 million, £4.6 million more than expected.


Evidently, the challenges are great but councils are showing that solutions do exist. The interdependencies between these issues means solving one goes some way to solving another: Integration will lead to better data, which will hopefully lead to more customer-focussed services, which entails better and more flexible methods of working, all of which are underpinned by a strong commissioning strategy. As is often the case local government is leading the way when it comes to reform.

RS and TK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Thoughts, reflections and ruminations from the BDOlocalgov team. We don't always agree with each other. We'd love to hear what you think.


Part of the Public Health Family

An International company that offers private antique art sales to clients around the globe.

Parenting And Stuff

Not a "how to be a great parent" blog

Government Digital Service

Putting the public first in delivering digital public services


Welcome to Shropshire Council's Graduate blog!

Random thoughts from a human being

The only thing I've consistently said is that I'm inconsistent.


A blog about all things musical, and a little more besides...


Photographs from my world.

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences


Mainly eating and drinking my way through London. Sometimes spontaneously. Sometimes with a spreadsheet of options mapped to occasion, season, acquaintance and mood.


A blog about work (#localgov), learning, family, friends, Shropshire, cake and things that are going on at Bentham Towers HQ.

Jon King

Musings from the world of public sector transformation - my views alone

Unsafe Spaces

Highlighting abuse and safeguarding issues in psychological therapies. Campaigning for stronger regulation in counselling and psychotherapy.

a day without OJ - A comms, digital & PR blog by Ross Wigham

"A day without orange juice is a helluva long day."

Stuart Mackintosh

Communications / PR / Marketing / Journalism / Family

The Local Government Officer

Certified as a true and accurate record

We Love Local Government

A blog looking sideways at life in local government

%d bloggers like this: