Towards Excellence in Adult Social Care

'Towards Excellence in Councils' Adult Social Care' is a programme to help councils improve their performance in adult social care. The sector-led initiative builds on the self-assessment and improvement work already carried out by councils.

1. What is Towards Excellence in Councils' Adult Social Care?

The key emphasis of this new approach will be on promoting innovation and excellence and collective ownership of improvement. Its core elements will involve regional work; robust performance data; self-evaluation; and peer support and challenge.

There is a 'statement of purpose' for 2013/214 which describes what the programme seeks to achieve this year.

Statement of purpose (PDF, 12 pages, 223KB)

Up-to-date information about the programme can be found in its bulletins.

July 2013 (PDF, 7 pages, 421KB)
May 2013 (PDF, 5 pages, 301 KB)
February 2013 (PDF, 4 pages, 116 KB)
November 2012 (PDF, 4 pages, 90KB)
September 2012 (PDF, 5 pages, 94KB)
August 2012 (PDF, 4 pages, 93KB)
May 2012 (PDF, 4 pages, 126KB)
April 2012 (PDF, 4 pages, 87.7K)
March 2012 (PDF, 6 pages, 38KB)

2. What does the programme involve?

The Towards Excellence programme is initially focusing on:

  • Working with regions: some funding will be made available for work on issues that the regions identify as key to effective sector-led improvement.
  • Data analysis: the board will draw on national data sets, market intelligence and other regional sources, based on the principle of data sharing and open sources, to develop national analysis. See point three below for more information on current work on this.
  • Local accounts: Councils are being encouraged to produce 'local accounts' as a means of reporting back to local people on performance. Local accounts could become a key engagement and accountability mechanism to the public and a useful way of informing self-improvement activity locally.
  • Working with councils previously judged 'adequate' for adult social care by the Care Quality Commission (CQC): Each council has developed a funded improvement plan. Their progress will be formally endorsed by peer review or challenge, among other mechanisms.
  • Funded projects: there will also be key issues identified as priority areas, such as safeguarding and use of resources, which contribute to the delivery of the programme.
  • Commissioning and identifying support: providing a national overview of support needs in order to help to commission and direct support offers, nationally, regionally and for individual councils. The board also is working with relevant national organisations to coordinate and promote their offers to the sector to assist local improvement planning.
  • Brokering support and escalation of concerns: the board will work with ADASS regions and LGA advisers.

3. Current work

Progress with adult social care priorities

These reports offer an overview of the progress of councils in England towards better care and support, based on currently available data. The information provided in this report will assist the efforts of the sector to improve performance and share where best practice occurs.  The report recognises the challenge of improving people's experience of care at a time when resources are limited and highlights the importance of more cost-effective, integrated working and maximising the use of technology. 

Progress with adult social care priorities 2012-2013 (PDF, 69 pages, 1504KB) larger file

Progress on adult social care priorities 2011-2012 (PDF, 56 pages, 1689KB) larger file

A document with frequently asked questions has been published alongside the Progress report which provides information on how to use the report and statistical summaries.

Download here:

Progress with adult social care priorities 2012-2013 - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Local accounts conference

A national conference on local accounts was held on 12 November at Local Government House. This event shared the learning and practice to date via a range of high-profile speakers, group and workshop sessions and also explored how local accounts might develop in the future. Presentations from the event, including innovative examples from authorities are available here:

Local accounts in social care: what next?

The programme board also had pulled together current learning on developing local accounts in order to inform current and future practice:

Developing local accounts - what we know (PDF, 9 pages, 284KB)

Managing the risk of underperformance

The programme board has developed an approach via extensive consultation which sets out a high level description of the roles and responsibilities where early support is needed because a risk of underperformance has been identified. This does not seek to prescribe in any detail what should be done and seeks to provide sufficient flexibility as each situation will have unique characteristics. This also contains the mandate developed by ADASS.

Managing the risk of underperformance (PDF, 11 pages, 319 KB)

Making the best use of resources

The programme board commissioned work, in partnership with Think Local Act Personal, to support adult social care and, in particular, local leadership to make the best use of available resources in the current challenging financial context.  The practical written guidance and tools that seek to support councils with their strategic and financial planning are available on the 'think local act personal' website.

Making best use of resources 

4. How is the programme being delivered?

The Towards Excellence in Councils Adult Social Care Programme Board is developing the key elements of an approach to sector-led improvement at a national level. The board aims to ensure that a coherent approach to sector-led improvement is taken and that available resources are used effectively.

The board is chaired by Peter Hay (ADASS). It also includes representatives from ADASS, the LGA, the CQC, the Department of Health, the Social Care Institute for Excellence, SOLACE and Think Local, Act Personal.

The terms of reference can be found here:
Towards Excellence terms of reference (PDF, 2 pages, 65KB)

The model being developed with and through the LGA's regional presence and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) regions and networks.


The National Programme Director, Oliver Mills, reports to the board. The board reports to the
LGA Community Wellbeing Board

5. How is Towards Excellence funded?

The Department of Health has provided £500,000 for activity in 2012/13.

6. How does Towards Excellence fit with other sector-led initiatives?

Taking the lead

The key aspects of the programme are consistent with the approach to self-regulation as outlined in 'Taking the lead'. This the culmination of the LGA's successful campaign to reduce the burden of external inspection and assessment that councils face. It now includes the free of charge/subsidised support offer the LGA is making available to help councils take advantage of this new approach.

Sector led improvement

Adult Social Care Peer Challenge

Safeguarding Adult Peer Challenge

Towards Excellence for Children

The programme has a very similar approach to 'Towards Excellence for Children: Sector-led improvement and support in children's services', particularly around peer review and regional work. Both are working together to ensure that links are made across the two programmes.

Children's Improvement Board

Health and Wellbeing Boards

The LGA has received around funding from the Department of Health to support leadership for system-wide health reform and a support and development programme for key players on Health & Wellbeing Boards.

See the Health resource on this site

Links with the adult social care efficiency programme are also being made.

Adult social care efficiency programme

7. Who can I contact for further information?

Oliver Mills
National Programme Director –Towards Excellence in Council's Adult Social Care


1 December 2014

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