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2014 Conference Presentation

Policy EnglandUnited Kingdom

1 September 2014

Is outcomes-based management and policymaking a reality for local government?

Clara Heath, University of Kent, United Kingdom
Julien Forder, University of Kent, United Kingdom
Juliette Malley, University of Kent, United Kingdom


Current policy encourages local government to use outcomes information to drive local policymaking and service improvement. We report a study conducted within the Maximising the Value of Survey Data in Adult Social Care (MAX) project which investigated the use of service user- and carer-reported outcomes information in the Adult Social Care Survey (ASCS) and the Personal Social Services Survey of Carers in England (PSS SACE) [see box below] – and the barriers to make greater use of this data – among local authorities (LAs) in England.

A variety of methods were used and of the 100 LA staff (from 83 LAs) who completed an online survey, 30 engaged in follow up telephone interviews and 16 submitted over 40 analysis documents for review. These activities found that whilst local authorities are enthusiastic about using users’ views of social care outcomes, difficulties with analysing and interpreting the data in a way that is meaningful at a local level mean that they make only limited use of the information in practice.. It appears that outcomes data is used mainly for benchmarking (e.g. comparisons of national, regional or previous ASCOF scores) and accountability (i.e. demonstrating outcomes in publicly available documents), and rarely to fed into commissioning decisions.

The presentation ends with some reflections on what can be done to help local authorities make outcomes-based management and policy-making a reality. The ASCS (successor to the User Experience Survey) and PSS SACE (widely referred to as the Carers Survey) are national surveys of social care service users and adult carers in England, respectively. They capture information about the quality of life of these groups of people and their experiences of social care services. The surveys are run by all local authorities (LAs) in England – annually for the ASCS and biennially for the PSS SACE – and are part of the data returns submitted to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Some of the questions in the survey are used to populate indicators within the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF).

To find out more about these surveys visit the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s website ( The Maximising the Value of Survey Data in Adult Social Care (MAX) project ( is funded by the Department of Health, through the Quality and Outcomes of person-centred care Research Unit (QORU), a collaboration involving researchers in health and social care from the Universities of Kent, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The views expressed here are those of the authors (the MAX project team) and are not necessarily shared by any individual, government department or agency.


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