Lamb Supports Commissioning- only Care Role for Councils

The Care Bill which reached the committee stage in the House of Commons today will introduce a series of new responsibilities for councils and is set to come into force alongside the introduction of a £72,000 cap on care costs.

Debating the Care Bill in the Commons, care services minister Norman Lamb indicated that he is in support of a proposal to prevent councils from providing adult care services directly.

Conservative MP Anne-Marie Morris, during a Commons debate on the Care Bill, suggested dividing the commissioning and provision of social care services in the same way that the functions are split in the NHS.

Her reasoning behind suggesting these changes was because of the fact that councils commission and provide care services. She said that this gave them, ‘an inherent conflict of interest’ that would make it difficult to ‘ensure true choice and diversity’ in care services.

Norman Lamb agreed with Ms Morris’ views saying, ‘in many respects I think that [separating provision and commissioning]is a good thing, because the commissioner can then, without fear or favour, hold those providers to account to ensure a high standard of provision.’

Mr Lamb said that in many areas about 80% of care was already run by outside providers, so direct local authority provision of adult care services was ‘becoming a minority pursuit.’

The Care Bill provisions would provide councils with a new duty to oversee local social care markets and make sure there is‘quality and diversity’ in the services available. Mr Lamb explained that, ‘the duty is about ensuring that the market meets the needs of local people with a choice of quality services – it is not about promoting a market for its own sake.’

During the Commons debate, Labour’s shadow care minister Liz Kendall explained that there were concerns about a provision in the Care Bill that would reduce some of CQC’s responsibilities for checking the quality of councils’ commissioning. She said, ‘we are all in favour of devolution and giving local government more responsibilities, but we must be able to check the quality of a council’s commissioning process.’

Mr Lamb responded that the CQC would still be able to do ‘themed inspections on specific issues of concern’. He said it is,‘important that those powers are exercised in order to hold the commissioning of local government to account.’

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