Are local government online portals for social care work a good idea?

Such portals would need to attract a lot of traffic if they are to be successful

James Lloyd, director of think tank Strategic Society Centre, has written about the government’s desire for local councils to create online information portals for social care and develop e-marketplaces where citizens can buy services. According to him, this is exciting but such portals would need to attract a lot of traffic if they are to be successful.

If the government was to focus local council portals on citizens whose home care is funded by local authorities – about 532,000 older people and 350,000 working age adults – it would not be able to generate enough traffic, “particularly if individual councils implement their own local portals and e-marketplaces,” says Lloyd.

To make these websites work, the government will need to “also provide information on millions of other older people experiencing disability who have no contact with local authorities” by tapping into those who are on the attendance allowance system. Attendance allowance is money given by the government to those who are over 65 and physically or mentally disabled.

Using the attendance allowance system to direct people to information portals and e-marketplaces for care services could be truly transformative, and be the key to unlocking the ‘information vision’ for the care system that the Department of Health is striving for,” Lloyd concludes.

The government has recently said it will give GBP 32.5 million to local authorities to help them improve their online information and support services.


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