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Some local authorities are still favouring block contracts.

These contracts award large numbers of hours to providers who win a tender.

The upside for the local authority is that it tends to get a cheaper rate.

There are several significant downsides to such an approach.

Firstly, where is the competition? The winning provider can often provide a sub-standard service, but the work sticks with them.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, where is the choice for the customer?

The first principle of the Care Act 2014 is “Empowerment”. That is that people are being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and give informed consent.

Where a local authority has awarded a block contract, such empowerment becomes almost meaningless.

You will have the home care provider we have chosen for you.

Informed customers may have heard of “Individual Budgets”. These allow people to say to local authorities, “do not pick my provider. Instead, give me the money and I will make my own choice.”

Central government has been encouraging local authorities to go down this route.

However, for such a route to be successful local authorities need to promote this route, and to help older people with the administration.

This often isn’t the case.

Instead of block contracts, local authorities might achieve the same low cost by offering retrospective discounts (see previous blog).

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