England & Wales Welfare and equalities

How much do councils spend on early action?

The idea that forestalling an issue before it arises is cheaper and leads to better social outcomes has been a part of the political consensus on both sides of the ideological spectrum for many years.

Nevertheless, despite broad agreement on the importance of the issue, the route to better investment in prevention has not been clear. Policy makers have struggled to shift budgets away from acute services, where increasing demand is already placing pressure on budgets.

A major barrier for local government is a lack of clarity around what actually constitutes prevention and how much is spent on it overall. This is the issue the LGiU’s latest project seeks to tackle, by identifying how much a local authority spends on preventative, rather than reactive interventions.

The project will take place over two stages:

  • Firstly we will work with the London Borough of Camden to help them analyse their spend against a chosen outcome in adult social care. How much is spent on early action as opposed to response? While the project will focus purely on council spend, it will include activities from across council services, such as housing, leisure and community safety.
  • Secondly we will develop guidance to support other councils to undertake the same analysis.

Interestingly, the issue of early action unites policy makers from all sectors: this project is a partnership between private, public and voluntary organisations.

Representing the private sector, is leading social care provider Mears Group, who deliver care in the home to over 20,000 older people every day.

From the voluntary sector, we will be working with the British Red Cross, who provide a wide range of care and support services aimed at helping people recover from a crisis, and preventing them from reaching one.

And the London Borough of Camden will be hosting the pilot as part of their commitment to investing in preventative services.

Joe Farrington-Douglas, Head of UK Public Policy at the British Red Cross commented:

“We have a track record of working in in partnership with the NHS and local authority in Camden to help people recover from illness and maintain their wellbeing at home. We are excited to support this project to understand how Camden is investing for the future – and to see how other Councils could learn from their experience and achieve the transformation of care and support that we need.”

Find out more about why the British Red Cross is involved in the project.

Abigail Lock, Head of Communications at Mears Group added:

“Established wisdom tells us that prevention is better than cure; however
, ensuring that spending is targeted on effective measures can be
 challenging.  As a leading provider of domiciliary care, Mears is particularly 
interested in measures that can delay deterioration and 
reduce dependency.  We think that 
providers should be incentivised to take a preventative approach and encourage independence.   This is why we are working with
 Camden Council, The British Red Cross and LGIU to develop a tool kit to
 support local authorities with this important agenda.”

Find out more about why Mears Group is involved in the project.

The London Borough of Camden explained their motivation for being part of the research:

“Camden already values and promotes investment in preventative services, for example in adult social care and children’s services, and the Council is keen to better understand how services across the organisation contribute to our goals in this way. As part of our organisational change programme we have already begun work in relation to outcome-based budgeting and better use of data, with a strong emphasis on working across organisational silos. This exciting project can help us to develop our thinking in these important areas while developing a common understanding of prevention and its benefits for the Council.”

Find out more about why the London Borough of Camden is involved in the project.

If you are interested in hearing more about this project, or in piloting the guidance later in the year, please contact Laura Wilkes at laura.wilkes@lgiu.org


Mears LogoBritish Red Cross Logo