My first meeting with our new Care Services Minister Norman Lamb coincided with the launch by the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University of its major new programme to help local authorities develop care markets for quality and choice. The initiative flows from the general duty towards all local people, to be enshrined in the forthcoming Care and Support Bill, for local authorities to provide information and advice services, as well as promote local market arrangements `so that there are high quality services to meet peoples choices.

And so a bit more of the emerging social care architecture was fitted into its place: the programme to help develop the market; TLAP to help synchronise them with personalisaton, and TEASC to help us help each other make it work better

Over a long period of time now, ever since the community care reforms of the early 90s, we have slowly learned that markets are the best mechanisms we have for offering choices to individuals. It isnt a perfect mechanism, and there are known limits to what markets in social care can and will deliver. But we also know that, where we use them we need skilled oversight, a shrewd use of market intelligence and good communication across all parts of the system.

The new Programmes investment in the skills of staff and the capacity of councils and regions in these respects is a vital support for which local authorities should be grateful. We know we have to get better at managing our local markets indeed weve known that for  along time. But if we had the slightest doubts in that respect the lessons of Southern Cross and Winterbourne View will always be there to remind us

We might not all be starting from the same place, but wherever we are we recognise the need to develop and improve our approaches to markets in the light of implementing personalisation and shifting to new models in order to respond to the changing financial and policy frameworks.

ADASS genuinely welcomes this Programme. It has distinctive and unique features which mean that it will help all councils at whichever stage of their journey theyre on. And more specifically, whatever ratio between state and self-funded users they have in their populations. And while it addresses the needs of us all, it will also help us to establish we have all reached a common baseline, and prepare all of us to go further. It will help us capture and share good practice and so improve the shared learning that is part of the Associations core values.

We also expect the programme to start to help councils engage with further developments such as the role of markets and housing, or how growing community capacity will need reach into new markets. ADASS is currently conducting a poll among members seeking to get some sort of handle on the types of, and quality of, commissioning practice throughout England. Both we and our providers will have key roles, in future, in improving that practice, where necessary, though the Programme.

Critically, we shall want to be able to establish that we have the right capacity and skills in places comfortably before the new legal framework for social care comes in. Were ready to move quickly to support the Programme by completing the first stage of assessment and workshops to help reach decision on its use by regions and individual authorities.

Ideally, wed like to see the first programmes on the ground early next year. Our regional leads will be critical to that success and so far they have responded positively. Some have already as part of their improvement work have found more about how to become better at commissioning. Much of this involved working with the Institute of Public Policy: important relationships and experiences are already being forged.

So far the current IPC programmes have been very well received, and its great news that we are now going to have this further opportunity of working with them on a wider canvas. Looking at these first products, ADASS is particularly pleased to see challenging, innovative thinking captured in succinct, well-argued papers. We look forward to working with the Institute to get the best from each other over the coming year or so that the Programme is due to roll out.

But its more than that. Its also a further development of our partnership with the DH: a genuine style of co-production! Of course we welcome investment into a programme of this sort, and we especially support the joined-up, inclusive approach which has been taken to it. Make no mistake, ADASS will not drag its heels in encouraging and supporting our member to take advantage of it.

We really do recognise this new, mature partnership with DH, and all along we have shared the same ambitions for this Programme. Going forward we want to establish within the year the core skills and capacity that will be essential to supporting the new legal framework, and to our continuing to make choice and control a reality for all our citizens.