All Change……

Things are changing thick and fast out there! Sitra, like many others in the sector, are thinking through the implications of the significant changes at the ministerial  table, and recognising that the next few weeks and months will be very significant in understanding how those with new ministerial positions will respond to their new role. Will the direction of travel remain the same, or will we experience some seismic shifts in direction. For those of you who like spreadsheets, a complete listing has been posted by the Guardian and can be found here.

For those of you who want a shorter list of some of the changes of faces directly connecting with our sector – see below:-

Department Responsibility Name
Department of Communities and Local Government Housing Minister Mark Prisk
Department of Health Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Department of Health Minister of State for Care Services Norman Lamb
Department of Work and Pensions Work and Pensions Minister – Disability Esther McVey
Ministry of Justice Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State Chris Grayling

In addition there have been a number of changes of Parliamentary Under Secretary posts within key departments, and at present there are no clear listings of specific responsibilities allocated to ministers. Updates to follow.

I spent yesterday at one of the Sitra Festival of Ideas for Personalisation with a fantastic and inspiring group of housing support service users, providers and commissioners talking through the hopes and challenges of personalisation. I took the opportunity to ask those delegates what questions or comments they had for the incoming ministers, and whilst this clearly does not cover all their thoughts – the key concerns on their agenda included:-

  • Joint commissioning is not working as effectively as it could. Will the push towards Community Budgets continue, and will they see the true joining up of a localities approach to prevention?
  • Constant squeeze on budgets is meaning that organisations are for going staff training and development. Do ministers recognise the need for a well qualified staff to ensure quality and safeguarding remain high on the agenda.
  • Will any new directions for government retain the focus on personalisation? If so, how will the new ministers explore the relationship between the impact of welfare reform on vulnerable peoples ability to take up the mantra of ‘choice and control’

Going local has been the driving force of the last two years, and in many ways the answers to these questions may be beyond these new ministers, as they will lie with local decision makers, providers of services or the users of the services themselves. However, as all the talk of central directives to address stimulus take hold, it seems unlikely that there will not be a strong push from the centre in one way or another around these issues,  in some shape or form which have a direct impact on the lives of our clients, the work of our members or the economic circumstances of our funders.

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