The introduction of the SP program was wonderful idea. Unfortunately the introduction of the program was overseen by people with no sence, and no idea of the number of services being provided when this piece of regulation was introduced.

Two very costly mistakes were made at it's introduction.

Firstly; the grant was to be admistered by local authorities. This meant that each local authority had it's own SP monitoring team, regardless of the size of the authority. Meaning that providers who manage services in more than one authority have to answer to a different SP team in each locality, with a staggering difference in the competence of those asking the questions. Thankfully, the no nonsence Mr Pickles has decided to cut the administration of SP from the criminal waste of public spending. I'm wondering how long it will take him to realise that since the ring fence came off SP, they have all changed their names to commissioners of this, that, and the other, and are currently hiding in corners of civic centres up and down the land hoping that he won't notice.

To save a fortune, and ensure the future of good practice brought by SP, the sensible thing would be to have one reveiwing team in each regional government office. If each government region currently has, say, ten SP teams, I would wager that there must be at least one good SP team in that region. If the reviewing of SP services in each region was given to the best SP team it would ensure consistency in the promotion of good practice in that region. It would also ensure that the rubbish SP teams weren't sat twiddling their thumbs until the next time they can be bothered to carry out a review visit. Most importantly, it would be a lot cheaper.

Secondly; at the introduction of SP, providers were basically given the opportunity to name their price. On the 1st of April 2003 they were rubbing their hands with glee and laughing all the way to the bank. Some providers were honest enough to keep the cost realistic and ask for the same price they were being paid on the 31st March 2003. The people paying the grant didn't have the sence to ask any questions, and just gave providers what they asked for. Ever since, we have all been asked to reduce our costs by a percentage.

To save a fortune, if one provider can provide the same level of service assessed to the same QAF standards as another provider, but for a fraction of the cost, it's pretty obvious who should be taking the cut in what is essentially public money.

Why is this idea important?

The provision of support services to vulnerable people is vital, and saves money in more expensive statutory interventions.

By reducing the bureaucracy, providers will be able to concentrate on improving and maintaining the level of service they provide.

The continuation of essential services can be ensured by saving the money that is currently being wasted in the administration and provision of support services.

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