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Implementing a consistent approach to evaluating the use of resources in adult social care

Working collaboratively with councils, Government departments and specialist consultancies / contractors, through the Partners in care and health (PCH), the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have led the development of a robust and transparent approach to evaluating the use of resources in adult social care to support sector led improvement.

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The 13-step approach uses a set of questions to promote informed self-assessment and improvement, taking into account local conditions and bringing in challenge at each step. It helps councils to identify areas for further exploration, where spend and/or performance is significantly different to regional or national averages.

It is recognised that inconsistency in interpretation and data collection is a challenge for councils that will impact on the effectiveness of the new approach in supporting sector led improvement. Building on work in the regions a number of workshops have taken place with regional networks looking first at the information for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

These provided a chance to discuss the technical considerations around the national data sets used in this approach and to gain a more consistent understanding of the definitions behind the national finance and performance indicators. 

Events and reports are aimed at directors and/or assistant directors of adult social care (ASC), ASC finance officers and performance leads. Four key reports are hosted on LG Inform to support quick and easy analysis of data for those steps which draw from national data sets.

Please note that this year, due to the impact of COVID 19 any comparison between 2019/20 and 2020/21 must take into account the impact of the pandemic on both activity numbers and spending in 2020/21. The differing scale of cases around the country and the differing profiles of when the impacts occurred will also affect any comparison between authorities. This makes any form of comparative analysis much more complicated and potentially misleading. This will also continue into 2021/22 reporting as the different stages of the pandemic progress.

Use of Resources Time Series Report: to help councils in reviewing a longer period we have created a supplementary report that includes all core measures from the Use of Resources approach from 2016/17 through to 2020/21.

NHS Digital published the underlying data for these reports on 21 October 2021. Individual local authority reports covering the financial year 2020/21 will be sent to all adult social care local authority contacts via regional performance leads as soon as possible after publication. Interactive reports covering the financial year 2020/21 will be available to all local authority users of LG Inform in the weeks following, when a fuller assessment of the impact of COVID-19 has been carried out and addressed in the report.

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John Jackson, the national care and health improvement adviser (CHIA) for finance risk is available to provide further guidance and support to directors of adult social care on the findings of the use of resources approach. If you would like further support please contact your regional partners in care and health adviser in the first instance.