To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if his Department will take steps with the Department of Health to progress the commencement of powers for the Care Quality Commission to undertake inspections of how local authorities commission their care services where no specific complaints have been made.
9 February 2015
The power for a Secretary of State to require the Care Quality Commission to undertake a special inspection of local authority commissioning of care services has already been commenced.
The Coalition Government has a strong record of reducing top-down inspections of local government, reflecting commitments made in the Coalition Agreement. Intervention in the activities of locally accountable councils should only be considered where a last resort.
I am not aware of any evidence that would constitute the kinds of exceptional circumstances that would warrant deployment of this power. Indeed it is arguable that local councils have been very effective in procuring care services and local taxpayers will thank them for having kept care costs under control.
Even where there is evidence of poor commissioning practice by particular councils, the Government expects councils collectively, through the Local Government Association, to take the lead in improving poor performance. The Association has developed a programme of peer support available to councils, which includes mentoring and peer challenges.