Spotlight on the RSP - December 18 Edition

The Rural Services Partnership membership is increasing month -on- month with The Diocese of Blackburn and the Rural Business Awards Business Group joining last month. The RSP now has over 140 organisations who wish to work with the Rural Services Network to fight for a fair deal for rural communities and deliver resilient and sustainable rural communities. In this month’s Spotlight we are working jointly with the Foundation for Social Improvement to develop fundraising capacity and improve funding applications for small charities, Community Interest Companies and community organisation in rural areas.
To see more about the new and existing Rural Services Partnership members click here

Here are some examples of the work undertaken by RSP members: 

Are you a small charity, CIC or community organisation looking to develop your fundraising capacity and improve your funding applications?

Our new members The FSI offer free and heavily subsidised training and advice to help you achieve this. Access fundraising, governance and impact measurement support for just £5-25 in 20+ cities across the UK or – even better for rural organisations – online through webinars and e-learning courses. It’s free to join for organisations under £1m turnover, so visit their website for more information.

Warwickshire Rural Housing Association, part of Midlands Rural Housing

Warwickshire Rural Housing Association, part of Midlands Rural Housing, a longstanding RSP member, has been awarded the Best Green Scheme in the UK, beating off stiff competition from within the housing industry.

To find out more about this exciting project take a look at the recent press coverage 

The Alzheimer’s Society

The Alzheimer’s Society is an active member of the RSP and has been working closely with us to address the many challenges that people with dementia in rural England experience.  With Christmas approaching the Society has concerns for people with dementia and their carers.

Nearly two thirds of people with dementia say they no longer get invited to social events at Christmas. Dementia Friends responds.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: food, laughter, family and joy. But for people with dementia and their carers Christmas can be a lonely and worrying time. Over 1.5 million people are affected by dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise significantly. Nearly two thirds of people with dementia say that they no longer get invited to social events at Christmas due to a lack of understanding about dementia in their community.

While spending quality time with your loved ones throughout the festive season, take action for people affected by dementia.  Alzheimer’s Society are asking industry leaders, organisations, businesses, communities and individuals to go into the New Year as Dementia Friends. Sign up at to become a Dementia Friends as an individual or to make Dementia Friends throughout your workplace (by signing up as an organisation). Find out the small ways you can help people affected by dementia feel safer, less isolated and more connected.

More information at

Outside the Box

Outside of the Box supports people to make their communities better in Scotland and England. They are part of the RSP network and have recently setup a new project Support Choices to address social care in rural areas.  ‘

‘Having choices around social care and support’  -

People living in rural areas often find it hard to get social care and support as there are fewer care providers working in these areas.

The Care and Wellbeing Co-operative is a network of self-employed care providers who are supporting people in rural parts of Perth and Kinross. They work as a co-op, to support each other as well as to offer people more choices and flexibility in the care they use.

Both the Care and Wellbeing Co-op and the Rural Wisdom project in Highland Perthshire were both hearing how it is also difficult to get information and advice about what support people are entitled to get - and what the options are. 

Outside the Box Development Support and The Care and Wellbeing Co-op have now come together to form a new, independent project to fill this gap. Support Choices has now got funding for two and a half years to:

  • develop a network of Support Champions in villages across the area
  • provide staff for one-to-one advice and help with the assessment and review process.

Get in touch for more information, or to get involved:, CIPFA’s New Consultancy Services is an active member of the RSP and delivered a popular Plenary session at this year’s Rural Conference in Cheltenham, and kingly sponsored the event.

Read more about their recent work with an RSN member and the issues facing local authorities and the provision of residential care.

Collaboration: The key to the sustainable future of care

The cost of providing residential care for the elderly is being squeezed from all sides. Rural areas are feeling this squeeze more acutely than most, with staffing and running costs of care homes being hit hard. C.Co have been working with an RSN member to help unpick this thorny issue and help them to ensure a sustainable solution.

“Numbers of elderly in 24 hour care set to double by 2035” - it’s not really a shocking or surprising headline, but the pressures faced by the country’s health and social care system hit the headlines again recently following a report published in the Lancet Public Health journal, which concluded that the number of people aged 65 and over needing 24 hour care is set to rise by a third in fewer than 18 years.

From the outside, the first thought would be that an increasing older population would be music to the ears of the UK’s care industry – after all, more customers means more profit, doesn’t it? But that is far from being the true story.

C.Co recently engaged with home care and residential care providers, and found that the industry has been hit hard by local authority budget cuts and the fees they are often paid by local authorities to deliver care and support services do not cover costs. Providers cite increased business costs, changes to national minimum wage, National Insurance, pensions contributions and recruitment, training and retention as significant factors that influence the local cost to deliver care – meaning that after paying care worker wages and overheads, there is little or nothing left to make a business viable. And as we know, these issues are all the more prominent in rural areas.

Worryingly, as costs increase, margins are squeezed to the point where companies are either going bankrupt or deciding to pull out of local authority contracts altogether in order to focus on the private or self-funder market. If providers are operating with a risk of failure, there is little incentive for them to stay in the sector, let alone work to attract the new investment required to create the extra capacity that will be needed to support the country’s growing population of over 65s.

The Care Act 2014 places duties on local authorities to facilitate and shape the whole publicly-funded and self-funded care and support market and to provide choice that delivers outcomes and improves wellbeing. Unlike previous case law, the Care Act strengthens the general duties of councils when setting fees, meaning commissioner have to “promote the efficient and effective operation of a market in services for meeting care and support needs” and “[have] a variety of providers to choose from who (taken together) provide a variety of services. A less than rosy picture for commissioners, who are facing the paradox of; less money, more demand, less supply – at the heart of which are vulnerable people who need to be cared for.

Driving down costs, managing public spending and increasing efficiency are crucial to reducing waste in public organisations. But in doing so, what we cannot lose sight of is the importance of public value for money.

Squeezing providers can be a false economy. Where market failure occurs, additional administrative burden is placed on local authorities in terms of sourcing alternative care, increased costs for emergency placements and the reduction in market competition leads to authorities paying a premium. In addition, local authority clients risk being priced out of care provision from self-funders who can often afford more, or worse, the creation of a two-tier care system where self-funders subsidise local authority clients. Failing to agree a fair cost of care is a lose lose situation, for the local authority, provider and most importantly those who require care and support.

So, what’s the solution? The obvious one is that more money is required for health and care services, again, a well-documented (and evidenced) argument where the sector as a whole is waiting for the forthcoming government Health and Social Care green paper proposals. But in the meantime, changing the dialogue between commissioner and providers is central to tackling these issues – we must begin to answer questions such as “what is a fair cost of care that recognises the pressures on all sides?” “How can investment, however limited, be targeted to create the biggest impact on the care market?” “How can commissioning incentivise and stimulate the market either through dynamic purchasing or lead provider models?”

And at the heart of this must be collaboration between the market and local authorities – knowing that by working together, recognising the challenges faced, give and take on both sides and thinking differently about how services are commissioned, the sector meet the rising demand its faces for services.

Case Study: Calculating the True Cost of Care

Since the introduction of the Care Act 2014 local authorities have a statutory duty to facilitate and shape the local care and support market. It is however, well documented that care services in the UK are experiencing increased demands and increasing complexity of care needs as well as rising costs for care providers – and these pressures have a direct impact on the setting of Care fees.

Because of this, the Council wanted to assure itself that fee levels for care and support services were appropriate to enable the delivery of care packages against the required quality of care.

C.Co worked with the Council to understand the market situation and the cost incurred by each provider for home care, supported living, extra care and residential care provision. In accordance with CIPFA’s Cost of Care Guidance, C.Co worked collaboratively with providers to establish accurate interpretations of local cost of care.

A series of workshops were conducted with providers in order to understand that cost elements that drive care delivery, enabling the co-design of data collection questionnaires which both the providers and the authority were comfortable with. Once issued, C.Co worked with providers to compile cost information and a detailed cost and quality modelling exercise was conducted to provide the council with a localised ‘actual’ cost of care for the borough.

A key enabler to the accuracy and completeness of responses was for providers to feel a part of the process and not as though the activity was being done to them. To make this happen C.Co engaged with providers both before, during and after the costing exercise was undertaken; encouraging ownership and understanding of the process as well as clarity on what the outputs of the exercise would be used for and how this may impact them in the future.

The output of the project  provided the council with a robust evidence base that informed how the council set its care fees for the future, in a manner that supported the wellbeing of people who receive care and support, whilst allowing the service provider the ability to provide quality care at a price which supports the development of a sustainable care market. Overall, the exercise has begun to establish open conversation between the Council and the providers – with collaboration now seen as a fundamental element of future solutions.

Promoting Rural Best Practice

Many of our members are keen to tell you more about their organisation’s excellent work and with this in mind we have developed a unique area on our website as a resource for them to do so. This can be found here.

Equally, the RSP are keen to provide opportunities for RSP members to promote their work to the wider RSN network of 25,000, which includes over 140 LAs, community organisations, rural businesses, and parish councils, to mention but a few. Members can send through this information by emailing Jon Turner.

Why Not Join Up!

The RSP exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas.

If you know a rural organisation that would benefit from membership, please ask them to consider joining us.  The RSP is a solely rural focused organisation with an electronic distribution network in excess of 25,000 individuals.  We reach all sectors of rural England and provide a sustained and respected voice for rural areas at national level.  Anyone who wants to talk to us about our role and services of the RSP please take a look at the link  or contact Jon Turner to find out more.


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