Appropriate adult services have historically been arranged at local authority level as part of the social work function (for adults) and the YOT function (for people under 18). The large majority of current AA schemes remain organised and funded at local authority level.
Depending on the local context, this approach may have a number of potential benefits.
- Integration with other local services may be preferred over alignment with a police area.
- The scheme can focus on the needs of the local area and there is direct control over preferred key performance indicators
- There is greater opportunity for a local scheme co-ordinator to develop effective working relationships with key contacts in the police and other related services
- Services are sustainable irrespective of decisions in other local authority areas
- Simpler and quicker to integrate with other services, developing local partnerships, information sharing agreements and referral pathways
- People tend to be motivated to volunteer in their local community
Where existing arrangements are effective at the single local authority level, developers / commissioners should consider the risks, as well as the potential benefits, before pursuing a wider geographical scope.
 There are 152 principal local authorities in England and Wales. They have responsibility for adult social care. This includes county, unitary and metropolitan borough councils and excludes district councils.
Where provision takes place at a local authority level (whether in-house or commissioned) there are still possibilities for collaboration across local authority areas.
- Collaboration over key performance indicators
- Joint performance reviews
In some areas, contracts are let at a local level but the same provider has been used. This has, in effect, meant the sharing of overheads without joint commissioning.
In some areas local authorities have pooled resources to develop multi-area services. The key drivers for this appear to be:
- Decreasing costs by reducing the replication of fixed overheads (i.e. scheme leadership and administration).
- Responding to changes in the police custody estate, for example whereby local police stations have closed in favour of larger facilities that serve multiple local authorities. (It should be remembered that voluntary interviews may not take place in custody facilities)
- Responding to increases in demand for AAs for adults due to improved identification
- Aligning with wider collaboration between specific local authorities
- Engaging with a wider set of co-funders and/or commissioners
- Responding to significant cross-border crime
Generating efficiency savings may provide a local area to reinvest in improving the service to meet required needs and standards. For example, this could help to fund an extension of operating hours or adding adult provision to a children-only service.
Potential challenges associated with this approach include: -
- Each local authority becomes dependent on the financial decisions of the other(s). Where an AA service is only sustainable due to the combined resources of multiple local authorities, a decision to reduce or remove funding in one area may lead to the failure of the service in one or more others.
- Partnership development involves the investment of considerable resources, which may negate the intended efficiency savings.
- Key performance indicators must be agreed across partners
- Information sharing may become significantly more complex and there may be significant differences in referral pathways
- Preferred providers with strong local links may not have the authorisation, capacity or desire to scale up and expand into other areas
- Areas with a high population density and volume of demand may be difficult to manage beyond the local level.
While in some areas a police force area covers a single local authority (e.g. Norfolk) others cover multiple areas. For example, there are:
- 5 local authorities are within the Avon and Somerset Police area
- 10 local authorities are within the Greater Manchester Police area
- 32 local authorities, are within the Metropolitan Police area (City of London Police cover ‘the Square Mile’).
The potential benefits and challenges are similar to those for local authority collaborations that do not cover an entire force area. However, the additional specific benefits are: -
- Clarity on responsibility for provision
- A single point of contact for police officers.
Where the force area includes a large number of local authorities, the challenges of a combined approach increase. There may be limits to the extent to which increasing size brings about savings (see Estimating Costs: Efficiency).