Report from Brookes shows 'big society' at work

Thursday, 12 August 2010


A new report by the Institute for Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University says voluntary groups could take over more of the work of the public sector as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s big society.

A new report by the Institute for Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University says voluntary groups could take over more of the work of the public sector as part of the 'big society' backed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

‘Gain Without Pain’ was commissioned by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) and shows how large savings could be made by charities already responsible for care contracts worth more than £1bn a year with bodies such as councils and the National Health Service.

In one case, a care at-home project for people in Bath and North East Somerset suffering from motor neurone disease was costed at £1,000 per person a month when provided by Neurological Commissioning Support, compared with £45,000 a month for unplanned hospital treatment.

Neurological Commissioning Support is a joint venture between the MS Society, Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Parkinson’s Disease Society and works with state agencies to improve end-of-life care.

In another example, the Papworth Trust saved £385 a week for every person with a learning disability moved from long-term NHS care into their own homes in Suffolk and Bedfordshire.

Bill Mumford, chairman of VODG, said: “The cuts in public spending make it all the more necessary to find new ways of working.”

The report was led by Professor Andrew Kerslake, Associate Director of IPC and Emeritus Professor at Oxford Brookes and Nic Rattle, researcher consultant at the Institute. It studied ten examples of care and support being taken over by voluntary groups which made the provision more cost-effective, more innovative and personalised.

Professor Kerslake said: “With significant cuts in social care expenditure about to be put in place, together with a growth in the populations of people needing care and support these are challenging times for local government. One approach is to make better use of the voluntary sector. Not only can voluntary organisations often bring ‘added value’ to projects through their use of volunteers and their own fundraising but often they are very good at proposing innovative solutions to major problems. The aim of this report is to demonstrate that it is possible to deliver value for money and good practice at the same time.”

The report has been backed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, who represent local authority social care commissioners.