A social enterprise has taken charge of all statutory adult social work across a local authority area in an unprecedented move.
focus independent adult social work became a freestanding company on 1 September with responsibility for complex case management, social care access, adult safeguarding and continuing healthcare across North East Lincolnshire.
It is one of the government’s seven social work practice pilots that are testing the outsourcing of statutory social work functions to independent organisations, but is the only one to take responsibility for all social work services. It is also the only social enterprise in England focusing exclusively on statutory adult social work (see below), and will give staff a stake in the running of the business.
Prior to 1 September, focus had been operating as part of North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (previously North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus), which is responsible for adult social care in the area under an agreement with the local authority. The CCG will commission focus and fund its running costs, while the two organisations will share a pooled budget for the funding of care packages and personal budgets, whose use will be governed by a partnership agreement.
Social work ‘at the centre of services’
“This is a really exciting development that puts professional social work values at the centre of services with a clear focus on delivering better outcomes for individuals and the wider community,” said Joe Warner, who has just been appointed as managing director of focus.
The rationale for the establishment of focus, as set out in its business plan, is that social work needs to change in the face of personalisation and diminishing resources to become more focused on building community capacity to support people with care needs, rather than gatekeeping access to state-funded care.
The business plan said this would be better served by creating a social enterprise than by retaining social work within a statutory setting. A social enterprise’s independence would enable it to forge closer links with community groups than a council or NHS body could do, while it could also be more flexible than a statutory body in responding to need and able to involve local people in its running.
This is reflected in the governance of the organisation with one service user, one carer and one community representative on the 15-strong board. As a “community interest company“, focus will have to ensure any profits are used principally for the benefit of the community and all assets retained within the social enterprise rather than sold off continue reading >>