Incoming ADASS President pledges progress on personalisation agenda

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: April 16, 2008
Embargo: Immediate

John Dixon takes over the Presidency of ADASS this month, promising to put the recently signed Concordat with government at the top of his agenda.  The agreement seeks to focus adult social care services firmly on creating a framework in which adults can have greater say over the way their services are managed.

Local authorities, meanwhile, will commit themselves to concentrating, alongside other agencies, on prevention and on providing more and better information about the care services they have available.

According to Mr Dixon, ADASS has been privileged to have been closely involved with some of the most exciting developments in social care for adults that we have seen for a generation.  With our members help we can expect to go forward down a road where we take greater responsibility for implementing new and emerging government policies which we ourselves have played a strong part in creating.

There could be risks in such an approach. But the opportunities we shall have on the way to create healthier, safer and more responsible communities far outweigh the complexities of the tasks that face us.

As incoming President, John has set four key areas of concern that he intends that ADASS should pursue during his Presidential year:

* Personalisation the task of ensuring that adults who qualify for local authority funding have as great a say as possible in how their money should be spent.  This will apply to elderly people, and people with physical and learning disabilities as well as those who are mentally ill.  This is a profound social change affecting the relationship between the state and the individual, and the way we organise all our public services.  It is one in which social services have taken the lead, and it is one which we shall have to manage with great care and authority.  It is a fundamental change with people everywhere expecting a different degree of control over their resources. he says.

* Finance Our budgets have been stretched particularly severely in the recent round of spending decisions, as well as having made the most effective Gershon/efficiency economies of any of the public services.  The government has promised a Green Paper on funding for adult care, and with the help of colleagues in the ADASS Resource Network we shall be presenting a robust case for more funding, to be spent more effectively.

What is also essential is that the Green Paper addresses the potential New Deal between the state and its citizens represented by personalisation, and the new approach to eligibility for services which are currently under review, he says.

* Wellbeing - We shall be undergoing important changes as we move away from providing intense services for relatively few people and concentrate on greater involvement with wellbeing generally for all residents.  Our new-found capacity to draw more easily on other local authority functions housing, libraries, culture and leisure services, for example is an excellent opportunity for us to think about the wider, joined up provision that the spirit of community care was originally about.

* Safeguarding According to John, adult protection is another crucial challenge the Association is preparing itself for. It is vitally important, he says to put agency-wide procedures onto a more robustly statutory framework in a way which doesnt simply hark back to child protection procedures, but reflects the importance of personalisation and our new relationship with service users.

John Dixon paid fulsome tribute to Anne Williams who steps down as President this month, and takes up her new role as Immediate Past President.  Annes contribution to the formation of ADASS, and establishing it as a formidable Association within only months of its birth has been phenomenal. I should like to place on record my appreciation, and the appreciation of all ADASS members, of what she has done, and how well she has done it.

The complexities of keeping a firm and cool gaze on immense policy changes going on within central government, while also overseeing the emergence of three new Associations from the former ADSS should never be underestimated, and we owe her a debt of great gratitude indeed. We all wish her all the very best in the future, he said.


For pictures, further quotes or interviews with John Dixon, please contact Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, on 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

John Dixon can be contacted on 01243 777660  

Notes for Editors

John Dixon was born in 1951 in Kingston, Surrey (as it was then). Both his father, a GP, and his mother were strongly involved in local voluntary work through their Anglican commitments: his father a churchwarden and his mother a member of a deaconess lay community.

His early interest in social work sprang from his familys connection with a local refuge for drug addicts which they had helped establish.

Educated at Cranleigh and Cambridge , where he spent four years studying English and Classics, his earliest occupations post-University were painting and decorating, and then working as an assistant with addicts at the rapidly expanding refuge.

Advised  by a tutor to `go into social work he trained first at the LSE where he passed its Diploma in Administration (1976) then completed his Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) at Surrey University in 1977.

From 1977 82 John worked with the Surrey Probation Service and in 1982 joined a Surrey-wide youth focus team.  A juvenile offender resource centre was set up shortly afterwards, and within a year he was managing the venture as a joint probation/social services and voluntary agency concern, though established within the local authority.

In 1995, John was appointed assistant director responsible for commissioning in Surrey . And then, briefly, deputy director.  In 1997 he was appointed director of social services for West Sussex where he has remained ever since.  He was appointed adult services director when the county split adults from childrens services.  Then earlier this year he agreed to become West Sussex s deputy chief executive with responsibility for both the countys adults and childrens services.

He has been an active member of the South East Branch of ADSS (now the South East Region of ADASS), and chaired the ADSS Disabilities Committee for many years, expressing there that early interest in, and concern for, alcohol and drug abuse.

John represented the ADSS on issues concerning drug and alcohol misuse until the change of the committee structure and the development of the new policy networks following the creation of ADASS.

He is acutely aware of, and has participated in, the rapid changes that have affected adult social care and ADASS in the short twelve months of the Associations life.  West Sussex was one of the 13 authorities to pilot Individual Budgets, providing important lessons on the benefits and problems that the new system can provide.  John is proud of that, and welcomes the important changes as we move away from providing intense services for relatively few people and concentrate on greater involvement with wellbeing generally.

In his spare time John gardens, reads copiously, is an avid user of Chichester s ample supply of excellent theatres and still manages to play bridge with his father on a regular basis.  He takes over the Presidency of ADASS for one year from April 23.