In the new legal framework, set out in the draft Care and Support Bill, local authorities will be required to use a range of quality services that promotes diversity and quality in the market of care and support in their area. Local authorities must try to make sure that there are a range of providers offering high quality services that meet the needs of individuals, families and carers.
The Department of Health is funding the Developing Care Markets for Quality and Choice programme which will support local authorities to develop market position statements, setting out how they will commission local services in the future and develop good relationships with their range of local providers
If a care provider falls into financial difficulties and leaves the market, it is not acceptable for those who rely on services to be left without the care and support they need. We know that the problems of Southern Cross created a great deal of uncertainty and distress for residents, families and carers. A recent National Audit Office report on social care markets (2011) also recommended that the government needs further arrangements at a national and local level to protect users from provider failure.
It is natural for care providers to enter and exit the market so local authorities should have sustainable plans in place to make sure people continue to get the services they need if their provider fails.
To reassure people that they will not be left without care and support if a care provider fails, the government will be consulting later this year on proposals for greater oversight of the social care market. This consultation will focus on the relevant responsibilities of local authorities, the collection of better market intelligence, and to what extent further oversight of the market is necessary.