Headlines: February 18th, 2008

A report from a national charity says three out of four people are not happy with the system of direct payments that allows disabled and older people to arrange and buy their own support services instead of getting them from their local council. The survey by the deaf blind charity Sense found many people’s personalised budgets did not cover the costs of appropriate care.

The report looks at who currently receives direct payments, what they are used for and the obstacles people encountered. Sense believes many local authorities are not following Department of Health guidelines on direct payments, leaving some people unable to afford adequate support. The report found the hourly rate of direct payments was often not enough to pay specialist staff and meet an individual’s needs.

Other results show a quarter of the survey’s respondents felt they were not given the alternative of receiving a service from their local council and only a third of them had heard about direct payments from their local authority. Sense says its findings come as the Government is seeking to increase the opportunities for people to take control of their own care budgets, but the report highlights several obstacles that need to be addressed.

The report’s author, Simon Shaw said, ” Our report has found the Department of Health’s guidance is not being properly implemented by many local authorities meaning people cannot afford appropriate support. A choice between personalised budgets that do not cover support costs and a council service is not really a choice.”