Grants have been awarded to 45 voluntary organizations for social care projects. A second round of awards will be made in April 2004. The maximum grant will be 120,000 pounds over 18 months. The awards will have the dual effect of encouraging voluntary organizations to deliver more social care and giving people who need care the choice of provider. From April 2003 the Direct Payments scheme was widened to cover a greater range of need and a duty was put on councils to make direct payments to individuals who consent to and are able to manage, with or without assistance.The voluntary organizations will work in collaboration with local councils. Local Implementation Groups will be set up to create strategic partnerships and they will include people using services, health, employment services and voluntary organisations representing the broad spectrum of people using services.
Health Minister Stephen Ladyman said: “I am delighted to announce the successful bids to the first stage of the Direct Payments Development Fund. We have made 9 million pounds available over three years to enable voluntary organisations in partnership with councils to invest in establishing Direct Payments as an option for people across the country. I have no doubt that as a result we will see a significant increase in people choosing to receive Direct Payments and therefore exercising much more control and choice in their lives, as all of us wish to do.”