CC2i Looking Local & the Co-funding Councils
Care Cap Account Collaboration
Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives
The incoming Adult Social Care reforms* require all citizens accessing care to have an Independent Personal Budget (IPB)and a care cap account, enabling them to track their spend up to the new £86,000 cap. The care cap and wider care reforms was a flagship policy in the Government’s election manifesto – essentially to prevent anyone having to sell their home to pay for their own care. The reforms represented a significant change from the current process, and required all local authorities to track the spend of every person who needs adult social care, rather than just those eligible for council-funded packages. Not only do councils currently not know who all the people are who will need a care account, but everyone will require a care and support assessment to determine their eligibility and IPB, adding significantly to the current workload. To add further to the complexity, a fair and accessible system needs to be put in place to monitor and evidence spend, the process needs to be clearly explained to people, and a right to query and contest IPB calculations needs to be implemented.
In terms of Adult Social Care (ASC) – and council services in general – this is one of the most significant changes to the system for years, one which is bringing more demand and scrutiny to councils and which requires an upgrade in approach, management, internal process and service user engagement. As such it has been the focus of every council across the country for at least the last year. As this is a national, mandatory approach, the care reforms and care cap – in particular – is a perfect example of where local authorities are able to work across boundaries to collectively commission, co-fund and co-design an appropriate solution, and this is what Kirklees Council and others have been doing with CC2i.
CC2i is a public sector co-funding platform that has worked with 80+ local authorities on a variety of ASC collaborative digital projects, solving a range of priority challenges in partnership with councils and health and care partners, and delivering digital solutions where one does not already exist. The Care Cap and IPB project is one such challenge, a blank canvas where no solution exists, where new legislation means significant process redesign, and the opportunity to co-design and develop a digital approach to bring a raft of services efficiencies. The aim of this project is to deliver a digital solution which supports councils to move to the new care charging model, without disrupting existing services, to support the thousands of new service users that will come into the system, and in the process bring clarity and confidence around the new charging reforms to both staff and service users.
The IPB collaboration and project has been brought together by CC2i; the solution has been developed and delivered by the technical partner Looking Local; and the co-funding councils are Kirklees Council, Walsall Council, Halton Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council. The end aim is to have a digital solution in place with each of the co-funders to deliver digital self service care and support assessments and a new care account by March 2023 – which we are collectively on track to achieve. * Note: during the project the November 2022 budget confirmed that the care reforms were to be pushed back two years. Originally councils were working to October 2023 as the date they would need to implement the new approach, but Jeremy Hunt’s budget delayed this until October 2025. Due to the significance of the reforms and work involved for local authorities, plus the pace of this project, much of the collaborative work was complete before the delay were announced. Interestingly the delay to the reforms has not delayed or impacted on the importance of the project in terms of council priorities. Indeed it is just as relevant, as the discovery phase unearthed a host of challenges relating to the wider scope of adult social care – the complexities of ASC charging, the need for financial clarity, the need to reduce personal debt within the system etc – all of which remains underfunded and overwhelmed with the demand. As such all partners are still 100%committed and wider interest in deploying a digital approach to ASC funding has not waned.
What are the key achievements?
This project is a council-led collaboration to co-design an automated digital solution to generate an independent personal budget (IPB) and associated self service digital care cap account, which the council and the service user can rely on in terms of the incoming Adult Social Care funding reforms.
Key achievements include:
PROCUREMENT PACE: The idea of this project was shared with council partners in June 2022, by the end of July there were four council partners confirmed to lead the project and the supporting paperwork signed off; work began in earnest on August 1st, 2022. The co-funding contract (which has been used by 80+ councils over the years), gives each partner assurance that the solution will be delivered in line with scheduled milestones, and confidence as to the collaboration rules and process;
RISK REDUCTION: The project’s collaborative approach reduces risk for each council, allowing them to drive innovation for a fraction of the normal cost (as they each pay an equal percentage of the overall cost);
VALUE FOR MONEY: Councils are often accused of reinventing the wheel, each one looking to solve the same challenge in isolation and as such not making best use of public funds. This approach ensures that public funds are used wisely and replication is eliminated. In addition, it is a project promise that each of the co-funding councils will be refunded their investment over the subsequent three years of using the resulting solution (via reduced licence fees), ensuring a cost neutral position, which is both innovative and unique in public sector digital projects;
PROJECT PACE: Digital solutions can be notoriously difficult to design, develop and implement. The collaboration approach ensures a relevant solution is delivered at pace (as the new policy requires) and without taking limited IT resources away from each council / internal priorities. This project began in August 2022 with an 8-week discovery phase, moved into development on October 1st, and will deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) by March 2023;
PARTNERSHIP: The four co-funding councils Kirklees Council, Walsall Council, Halton Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council are working together to co-design the solution with the technical partner, Looking Local. This combination of size, type and geography of the councils ensures the project gets a unique insight into the IPB challenge of each and that the solution will serve them all. The councils are not contiguous, they would not have had the framework to be able to work together without the CC2i collaboration model and as such each benefits financially and digitally;
PROCESS: By using the collaborative approach we collectively ensure a solution really fit for local government purposes. By working through a distinct discovery phase, then moving on to the MVP stage, each partner has the opportunity to guide, input, challenge and sign off the approach and development at multiple stages;
ENGAGEMENT: Alongside the four co-funding councils, there is an additional Gallery of local authorities engaged and overseeing the collaboration and resulting solution. Over 50 local authorities – many of which are iNetwork members – have actively joined the project as Gallery members. This means that with the core partners and the gallery, over a third of all English Adult Social Care responsible councils are working on this project. This number shows real value and council collaboration, the likes of which is rare – nearly impossible – to find. Finally in terms of engagement, Looking Local is working directly with Blackpool Council (also an iNetwork member) who is a trailblazer on the care reform and IPB work;
AGILE: The charging reform delay has meant that the need for visibility as an individual approaches their cap is no longer immediately needed. Despite this, the discovery phase identified other challenges which exist currently and remain relevant without the reforms landing – such as a budget calculator, provisional planning of care and fluctuation in user’s care needs. The agile nature of this partnership has meant that it has been able to keep pace with the changing policy landscape -anticipating and focusing on the most relevant elements, meaning that it will still result in a platform that addresses these existing challenges, outside of the reforms (as well as being ready for the reforms when they are confirmed); Whilst the announcement of delays has simplified the short-term picture, this process of collaborative exploration and product development has shone a spotlight on various stresses and deficiencies within the systems and processes used to support current case loads. There is scope for us to both meet these short term challenges (with innovation supported by technology) and to lay the foundation for whatever reforms come down the road in the medium term.
How innovative is your initiative?
In terms of procurement and commissioning, this collaborative approach is both innovative and unique. It drives high quality, relevant solutions – using the expertise of local authority, frontline professionals combined with digital expertise from the technical partners. By combining the expertise from a number of councils, we have been able to capture a range of requirements and consider different challenges councils face due to back end systems, geography or legacy processes. Councils have also been able to spark off each other, challenge each other and outline their priorities to ensure a robust, relevant solution – one which not only meets their needs (and will be cost neutral), but will have value to other local authorities outside the collaboration, ensuring sustainability for the solution more widely. In addition, there are two distinct innovative approaches in this submission; one from a procurement perspective, the other from the digital design and solution side.
Firstly, CC2i’s co-funding approach that underpins this project is unique. There is no other platform or framework that allows councils from across the UK to come together to co-design and co-fund digital solutions with leading technical experts. CC2i’s model was used to run the Local Government Association’s Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator across 2019-2021 and has supported the development of a range of public sector solutions. The approach is not only unique in the UK, but also across Europe, and Kirklees Council has been part of a number of collaborations, which also delivered a digital solution to Liberty Protection Safeguards, innovated with automated telephony, as well as delivered public sector specific information governance awareness training. From a solution perspective, the IPB is being built out from an original solution co-funded and co-designed by six further councils (Oxfordshire County Council, Dorset Council, Solihull Council, Medway Council, Lincolnshire County Council and Coventry City Council).
This earlier collaborative co-funded and co-designed solution delivered a comprehensive animation-led approach to supporting someone through their care and support assessment. This new, digital approach is not only critical in terms of our post Covid world, alleviating demand on frontline staff, but also supports thousands of service users to self-serve and drive forward their engagement with us and other councils. Indeed by being able to reuse existing co-designed technology, the project has been able to make much larger leaps to solve this new challenge at a much reduced cost.
Adult Social Care is one of the key areas where demand is high and where digital – for a range of valid reasons – has yet to really penetrate and support business and practice redesign and delivery. With the introduction of a self service care and support platform, councils are able to carefully and safely push people to engage digitally in the first instance, to give a good level of information on which we are able to deliver more personalised services.
The additional IPB solution, helps us tie the front end to be backend and radicalise how we deliver, budget and understand the demand across ASC in line with policy reform. It gives our teams intelligence from the data and reporting; it shows us where demand is focused; it reduces demand on over stretched ASC resources and allows us to better prioritise and understand user flow. Finally a digital solution to this challenge does not exist in any other usable form. Whilst other suppliers have discussed plans and approaches to the incoming reforms, this collaboration has built something tangible and real. Indeed we have never previously been part of (or even heard of) a collaboration where 50+ councils have had input and sight across an emerging local government focused product, being part of the project has been both refreshing and allowed us not to deflect resources internally to solve this key challenge. If you define the word (noun) ‘innovation’ as “a new method, idea, product”, there is no better example of innovation in terms of a fresh approach to council led collaboration/digital design, as well as delivering a solution where none previously existed.
What are the key learning points?
Collaboration works given the right procurement and commissioning framework. By using an approach which takes the challenge – not what the solution might be – out to councils across the country, this project has been able to find like-minded councils willing to invest and innovate, and with the right partners and framework, the project is driven and delivered. Procurement can be innovative and work at pace, as long as there is a will and there is clear understanding of what is being asked, and what will be achieved.
Public and private sector can work in harmony. Often private sector organisations are driven by their shareholders and ambition to make profit, however there are organisations that focus on ensuring value for money and delivering robust, relevant, scalable solutions. By designing with a range of councils, the IPB is relevant to virtually every local authority in England. Having the input of 50+ councils into the approach and requirements, means that solutions can be developed with and for the sector. Wider engagement is vital to the scalability and sustainability of solutions to ensure they continue to be relevant and can be enhanced in line with sector requirements.
A key learning point has been that even when the main driver of an innovation or project is removed or delayed, there is always value in what has been achieved. The 8-week discovery process unearthed a range of significant system and process challenges, that need solving with or without the care reform agenda. The beauty of the agile approach is that the development and technology can easily pivot when there is real value in continuing to address the underlying system complexities or inefficiencies, which is what has successfully happened here. CC2i, the collaborating councils and the technical partner have also taken real comfort in the wider commitment to the work we collectively are progressing – from such a large number of councils in the gallery and beyond – it feels like real validation of the approach, and that council collaboration is clearly possible at scale, when a convener or conduit is there to manage it.