In February this year the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that it was halting the national programme of data collection carried out in relation to both the National Outcomes Framework and the Client Records Forms. Undoubtedly, in the current climate of reducing ‘centralised’ bureaucracy this decision might not be seen to be surprising. However, having recently secured the ‘relative protection’ of the national Supporting People pot on the basis of solid robust national evidence, many felt that the potential vacuum left could be destabilising for the future.
At the time of notifying the sector of the changes to the national commitment to data collection, a consultation was promised. Sitra is delivering this consultation – with support from the DCLG. The official purpose of the consultation is stated as:
“Consultation with the housing related support sector on the future of Supporting People data and feasibility of developing a common framework for housing related support.”
The full details of the consultation can be found on our website and in addition to an online consultation there are a series of events that are being held around the country – participation in these are free.
Having spoken at the recent NHF/Sitra Housing and Support conference in the South West – the issue of data and evidence was very much on peoples’ minds. However, what we need to make sure we are clear on, is that we pull together an understanding of the data that will be needed in the future – and that will be useful for the whole sector. Key areas that seemed to emerge which will need to tackle head on include:
- Common systems and requirements: For both providers and commissioners, the level of pressure on ‘back office’ functions is significant. Any future data requirements going forward are going to have to balance the needs of creating a simplified ‘light’ system, which meets local needs – with a system that allows for the collection of common data for those providers who work across authorities
- Consumer-led demands: Discussions with the sector are focusing more on the understanding of the commissioners of the future being service users. There is no reason to expect that our own expectations as consumers with a right to ‘compare’ and seek ‘best value’ for our purchases will or should be any different for service users. Therefore a data set fit for the future will need to have at its heart the data and information needs of those individuals
- Future changes to adult social care: The recommendations launched on the 11 May by the Law Commission talk about the portability of a central assessment system. If service users are moving between localities, the need for themselves, their carers or their new care manager to find a like for like service would lend itself towards areas of comparability
- Partnerships and consortia: Finding a new partner is never easy! Concerns raised at the conference linked into what to do when a partner was underperforming. The ability to benchmark in advance and to assess compatibility through using data to identify the strengths of the different partners will be essential.
These are just some of the many considerations that the sector must grapple with over the next few months. I am sure that you have other thoughts – and we are very keen to hear them.
Please do contribute to the consultation. We look forward to hearing your views.