ADASS President "Where secrecy thrives, the abuse of power becomes possible"

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2011
Embargo: 00.01 hrs Thursday 20th October 2011

Freedom from anxiety and the fear of undignified treatment. Freedom from financial insecurity in old age. Freedom from a lack of clarity about the social care system - three guarantees to older and vulnerable people offered today on behalf of adult social services by ADASS President Peter Hay.

In a speech to the national adults and childrens social care conference in London he warns, however, that the price to be paid for a social care service finding new ways of fulfilling these guarantees would be the construction of a satisfactory funding system.

We accept that its our job to create and shape the conditions and the argument for reform   Its our job to offer tools and possible solutions to improving outcomes and transforming our sector ahead of reform, applying new values in public sector work, and offering jobs and growth. So we are more than ready not just to engage, but to complete the journey.

But, It is for others to answer whether they choose to back the ripeness of the moment by honouring the promise of resources and reform, he says.

In a wide-ranging address, Peter Hay reminds his audience that From Wanless to Dilnot, there has been a gap in the resources needed for care. There are plenty of arguments about the size of the gap, but no one denies its existence. As the Government pulls together its responses on funding care to accompany (next springs) White Paper, it will need to address that gap and determine its priorities for investment within this sector.

Integration with the NHS, without considering a modern base to the resources across care and health, will be fatally flawed, he warns

And referring to the launch this week of a new survey showing that most councils are on course to meet their personalisation targets by 2013, he went on to congratulate local authorities for the transparency with which they had responded. The survey confirms the view of the National Audit Office that we are leading the public sector in giving citizens real power and choice, which translates into good outcomes and high rates of satisfaction, he said, as well showing how open councils are, and have to be.

And in a particularly compelling section of his speech he makes an equally compelling case for social care:

When we bypass the transforming nature and values of social care, with its emphasis on inclusion and outcomes,  we face forces like that exposed at Castlebecks Winterbourne View.

Previous revolutions to close `out of sight, out of mind institutions have led to commissioning based in councils, seemingly lost behind models of complex health needs. Clear public policy was made a nonsense of by commissioning from hospitals built by the private sector on industrial estates. The appalling consequences will need to be addressed in learning from the range of reviews now underway. 

I hope part of that learning will be to address the apparent need to consider the consequences when social care goes missing, he warns

And referring to the ADASS role in publishing the step-by-step changes to the ownership of Southern Cross he urges the sector towards greater transparency in its relationship with the public and professionals alike. We will now work with the new businesses replacing Southern Cross as they join this sector-led world on the same terms as all others. Those new providers must pay particular attention to their need to address the chronic uncertainty of residents and carers that may otherwise undermine their business.

Our best advice is to embrace a culture of transparency, a value that we must also hold dear where we report on our performance. We would all do well to remember that where secrecy thrives, the abuse of power against vulnerable people is made possible from Ashworth twenty years ago to Winterbourne View this year.

A simple customer test is that secrecy is bad news in any care setting, public private or not-for-profit. For me, if I were buying care where there isnt openness about tax or ownership or quality standards then I would conclude that the business possibly isnt based on the right values.

He also points out forcefully the important impact social care can have on the national economy. Our sector employs more people than the NHS. Just as that number is growing here, it is the only sector growing in the American economy. Skills for Care chart the increase in employment the sector will offer over the next 15 years. Our sizeable economic contribution is underrated.
New models of provision lock profits into workforces and local communities for wealth creation. Dilnots proposition of financial certainty also hints at the advantages from unlocking the £720bn of equity currently tied up in housing. The engagement exercise is an opportunity to assert a case that includes the added economic gains from the sector.

And he concludes: We have the opportunity to create together a modern care system for the needs of the 21st century. Our case is compelling, a strong transformed offer that we continue to strengthen.

Reform will not fail because local government and this sector stepped back from transforming itself. But we cannot complete the journey alone. The local government family, the sector and citizens inspired by experiences will continue to assert our case through words and deeds. We fully accept our leadership role in building a new offer to get the best outcomes for people in the places we serve. We do so in the certain knowledge that ripeness is all and that the time is now.


For further information contact:
Peter Hay, ADASS President, 0121 303 2992
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755


The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.

`Personalisation' is a term used to describe a number of ways in which vulnerable adults and their carers can receive a mixture of local authority and government money in order to pay directly for the care services they need without direct social services involvement.

They will be helped in making an assessment of their needs and finances by social workers who will also involve and consider the needs and availability of carers. Any contractual agreement is therefore between the individual and the care worker or operator.

The government has urged local authorities to prioritise the roll-out of individual budgets. A National Director for Social Care Transformation was appointed in September 2008 to contribute to the development of personalised services.