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Turning the Welfare State Upside Down?

Authors: Jon Glasby, Robin Miller and Jennifer Lynch

Developing a new adult social care offer

This important report from the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham was commissioned by Birmingham City Council Adults and Communities to guide the Council’s thinking on the potential for a new adult social care ‘offer’ to local people. This was based on a review of Council websites (to see how other local authorities frame what they do for local people) as well as interviews with a series of leading national stakeholders and good practice examples.

In summary the report calls for:

  1. Recognition that adult social care spending is a form of social and economic investment that helps people be active citizens, supports people to return to employment and can generate new businesses opportunities for local people.
  2. A closer relationship with the NHS so that scarce public resources are used as effectively as possible and the needs of people with complex needs are met in full.
  3. A closer relationship between local and national government so that both see themselves as partners when trying to resolve traditional dilemmas and develop new approaches.

The report states: 

For many commentators, the adult social care system is fundamentally broken. This is not the fault of current workers, managers or policy makers – but there is strong consensus that we still have a 1940’s system which is increasingly unfit for purpose in the early twenty-first century.

The study was based on a review of how local council websites frame what they do for local people and interviews with a series of leading national stakeholders and good practice examples. Its aim was to produce a policy paper to guide local authorities’ thinking on the potential for a new adult social care “offer” to local people. 

Professor Glasby comments:

"Rather than starting with deficits (things people can't do for themselves), we need to start with social capital and community resources (things people can do for themselves and others, and everyday solutions that make sense to them). In future, adult social care needs to adopt more of a community development approach - working with individuals, groups and communities to build capacity and helping people to find new ways to achieve chosen lifestyles."


The publisher is the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham.

Policy Paper 15: Turning the welfare state upside down? Developing a new adult social care offer © Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham 2013.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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