A Community Care analysis of council policies and procedures for funding panels operating in adult social care has revealed that some are testing the limits of the Care Act 2014.
A freedom of information (FOI) request was sent to English councils asking for the terms of reference documents for any panels in their adults’ services department, and any policy or practice guidance supplied to social workers about how to submit or present cases to these meetings.
A survey also ran on Community Care over the summer asking adults’ social workers to tell us about the most recent case they took to the panel in their local authority.
This research follows our earlier investigation, which suggested funding panels were being used beyond their intended purpose, as set out in the Care Act statutory guidance.
We found then that social workers were concerned panels were being used to prioritise cost savings over peoples’ needs and, in some cases, override their professional recommendations. An FOI request also found more than 20 English councils were sending all requests for new or changes to existing care packages to a panel, which legal experts have since warned is potentially unlawful.
Our latest analysis shows that the policies referenced in some funding panels’ terms of reference documents could leave councils open to legal challenge. Three social workers also told us in detail about their experience of the last case they took to panel.
Our latest FOI request received responses from 107 of England’s 152 local authorities. Of this, 60 councils said they had a terms of reference in place for the panels they operate, and 55 provided us with a copy of the relevant documents.
We analysed 11 councils’ terms of reference documents
Source: The funding panel policies testing the limits of the Care Act : Community Care