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Accelerating Reform Fund programme

Last updated: 15 March 2024

DHSC releases £20million funding to support Accelerating Reform Fund

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a £42.6 million Accelerating Reform Fund (ARF) to boost the quality and accessibility of adult social care by supporting innovation and scaling, and kickstarting a change in services to support unpaid carers. On Friday 15 March, the first £20 million funding allocation has been released to support the innovative projects put forward by local authorities.

The Accelerating Reform Fund focuses on embedding and scaling approaches to transform care and support including for unpaid carers, who play such a vital, selfless role in our society. This will accelerate progress towards the government’s social care vision where people have choice, control and support to live independent lives, and where care and support is of outstanding quality and is provided in a fair, accessible way.

Local authorities have registered their interest with the DHSC, in partnership with others, in their integrated care systems, to fund local innovation projects. They are expected to work collaboratively with others such as the NHS, care providers, voluntary and community sector groups, including unpaid carers.

DHSC has appointed SCIE to provide hands-on support to local areas in developing local partnerships and delivering projects, ensuring participants benefit from valuable shared learnings, peer support and expert insights across the country. With a wealth of trusted expertise in working collaboratively to help local areas transform care, SCIE will help identify issues and challenges, galvanising co-production and ensuring people who need care and unpaid carers are at the heart of the programme.

The ARF is supporting at least two projects per region, one of which will focus on unpaid carers, and consider co-production with both care recipients and unpaid carers, ensuring they are inclusive of local diverse needs.

The grant includes an initial £300,000 ‘floor’ for each ICS consortium to cover core project start-up costs. The remaining funding is intended to cover some ongoing programme costs and how it is distributed will be calculated based on the Adult Social Care Relative Needs Formula (RNF) at a local authority level.

The ARF is a learning programme, so SCIE has an essential role in gathering evidence on how to successfully tackle the barriers to scaling up innovation in social care, alongside a national evaluation partner.

The national evaluation partner will be evaluating whether the programme has been successful at tackling the barriers to innovation, the success of SCIE’s support offer, and the ways local areas can continue to scale and adopt new innovations after the grant has been delivered. Projects will be evaluated to inform future decisions on embedding models of care in the community and overcome barriers by providing evidence on efficacy for future practice.

Funding allocations and analysis

The DHSC has now published final ICS funding allocations which will go to the lead local authority for each consortium. SCIE has provided an analysis summary of the local projects registered. The DHSC set out a list of 12 priorities to guide projects, sitting under the objectives of the 10-year social care vision, and local authorities were asked to identify which priorities their projects met, included in the summary provided.

SCIE’s analysis approach

SCIE undertook analysis across all the Expressions of Interest to surface information around the make-up of Local Authority consortia and partnerships, including the details of projects being delivered.

The analysis includes the diversity of providers and the nature of projects, with a particular focus on identifying initiatives supporting unpaid carers.

SCIE identified emerging trends of project distribution against the priority areas set by DHSC, with some projects sitting across several of the twelve priorities, while others sit squarely with one. From this, we established eight clear themes, grouping projects accordingly.

Next steps

Further analysis will in part inform and structure learning, and shape the support provided by SCIE through the life of the fund.

SCIE will provide support to local areas from April 2024 in relation to developing robust project governance arrangements, defining clear deliverables and milestones, and other key project management areas identified.

Subsequently we will run a series of online and face to face events bringing together project leads in relation to themes and categories identified in the analysis i.e. project objectives, key challenges, key risks, etc.

EOI analysis summary (PDF download)
DHSC press notice
DHSC funding allocations
SCIE media release

What is the Accelerating Reform Fund?


SCIE ran two webinars about the ARF programme on 14 and 27 November.

Webinar: Accelerating Reform Fund. Sharing general information about the Fund and how to apply

Webinar: Accelerating Reform Fund. In-depth questions

Frequently Asked Questions


SCIE support

Local responsibilities/working together



Contact us

If you have questions about SCIE’s support as part of the Accelerating Reform Fund programme, please email us.