Calderdale Council puts out a yearly social care Market Position Statement for companies that sell social care services, to tell them what customers for social care services are looking for.
The 2014 Market Position Statement says that Calderdale social care service companies and shoppers can trade through shop4support, a company that describes itself as:
“the biggest social care e-Marketplace ever developed in the Yorkshire and Humber region”.
shop4support announces that,
“Web users will be able to use their own money, or funding they get from their local council, to safely purchase online services that meet their social care needs, the same way as they would purchase their grocery shopping.”
When shop4 support was rolled out in Yorkshire and Humberside in 2011, a press release stated that the participating local authorities were:
“confident that shop4support is the perfect partner, delivering value for money and economic sustainability”
American company buys local authorities’ “perfect partner” with aim of cornering UK market for “personalised” health and social care
Although Calderdale Council’s 2014 social care Market Position Statement doesn’t say so, in February 2014 shop4support delivered itself over to an
“international management consulting, operations management and technology solution business, headquartered in the U.S.”
shop4support’s Managing Director David Bowes said that the company needs the American company’s
“expertise in delivering personalisation services and health care finance advisory services and its commitment to invest in S4S’s growth in the U.K.”
This is because,
“shop4support now faces a fresh set of challenges and opportunities, driven by areas such as the Care Bill, the local offer for special educational needs and personal health budgets.”
This American company, Public Consulting Group (PCG) acquired 100% of the share capital of shop4support for an undisclosed sum, in order to corner the UK market for “personalisation” of public services – in other words the delivery of public services through personal budgets.
This deal is PCG’s first acquisition outside the USA. PCG trades in the UK as PCG Advisory Services.
Public Consulting Group opened its London office in 2012. Handling over $1bn a year of personal budget spending on behalf of around 60,000 people in the US, PCG expanded into Europe in 2005. Its CEO Bill Mosakowski said,
“We have a fundamental affinity with the personalisation movement in the UK and elsewhere, hence our interest in shop4support. Further, I believe that personalisation will soon be extended to other public services including health care to improve quality, engagement and more efficient utilization of scarce resources. PCG intends to make immediate investments to the S4S technology, human capital and brand in the coming months, to take advantage of these burgeoning market opportunities.
“With the support of PCG’s considerable expertise and resources, we believe that shop4support will consolidate the existing position and become the default solution for those with any health or social care support needs”.
What happens come TTIP?
Come the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA – where will that leave Calderdale Council if it decides it doesn’t want shop4 support as its partner in the social care marketplace?
Or if (like the Dutch government has) it wants to row back from personal budgets, because it finds that they increase costs and lead to widespread abuses?
TTIP, a corporate power grab disguised as a trade treaty, would:
- allow companies to sue governments for policy changes – so if the government decided to reverse or reduce the “personalisation” of social care and health services, PCG could sue it for loss of profits
- allow companies a bigger role in writing laws
- lock in privatisation of the NHS, education, social care, probation services etc
Shopping for social care services as the route to independence
The days of the Council providing social care services seem to be more or less over. Instead, in line with the national policy “Putting People First” that the New Labour government introduced and the ConDems have continued, the Market Position Statement says that Calderdale’s social care users will become independent through buying social care services using personal budgets, and using “their own social networks” to make up for budgets that have been pared so that they “provide the right amount of help for each person”.
This presumably contrasts with previous lavish social care budgets that provided excessively luxurious amounts of help.
And, says the 2014 Market Position Statement, it contrasts with:
“a cycle of dependency and escalating support needs” encouraged by “the traditional model of care and support”
Cllr Tim Swift protested when this dogma about Calderdale Council’s social care services was trotted out in the Hospital Trust’s Strategic Outline Case for the transformation of NHS and social care in Calderdale and Huddersfield.
But here it is in Calderdale Council’s own Market Position Statement.
This plan to free people from dependence by turning them into happy social care shoppers, requires a “free” market in social care services that doesn’t exist. So the Council has to create this market. Bang goes one myth about the free market – that it results from the free interplay of supply and demand.