|Councils must 'radically improve' social care online|
|Written by publicservice.co.uk|
|Friday, 13 July 2012|
Local authorities across the country have been told to 'radically improve' online social care services as part of the government's social care reforms. And Whitehall is offering them millions of pounds to do it.
The care and support white paper, launched by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said increasing numbers of people wanted to get information about care and support over the internet.
Online services could provide self and supported assessment. And they offered people "easy-to-access" information on preventative support, as well as material for carers and local care providers.
Councils also had the opportunity to "understand the needs of their local population in more detail" at the same time as providing a "better customer experience".
But the government's white paper said the level of online support needed significant development.
"We expect to see all local authorities radically improving their online information and support services and we will provide £32.5m of start-up funding over two years from 2014/15 to support them in doing so," the document said.
Ministers have been pushing more and more public services online in order to drive down costs under the digital by default agenda.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said that where services can be delivered online they "should be delivered only online". This followed earlier confirmation from government digital champion Martha Lane Fox that more traditional and costly routes to services will need be shut down when digital access is established.
But social care reforms appear to be taking a different approach. The white paper said online services would act as a "supplement" to paper, telephone, and face-to-face information and did not indicate it would be a replacement.