Headlines: February 12th, 2010

A national charity is warning that local councils risk undermining moves to give disabled people greater choice in housing and services because they do not give essential information to those who need it. Livability said almost nine out of ten disabled people had not heard about the Individual Budgets funding system that will affect about 1.75 million of them from next year.

The charity said it had found that half of local authorities failed to provide information on their websites. Of those giving the information, two out of five were judged to be “poor” or “very poor”. In a ’mystery shopping’ exercise a researcher contacted 103 councils including all the London local authorities.

More than a quarter of the councils were unable to provide any information at all. Just over half of inquiries were misdirected and only three per cent of the authorities recommended additional sources of information. The City of London and Portsmouth City Council were the best performers and were the only two to score a perfect 10 for the information provided.

Mary Bishop, the chief executive of Livability, said: “The results of our research are extremely worrying. Personal Budgets have the potential to transform the lives of disabled people by giving them choice and control and yet awareness of them is woefully inadequate.” With a little over a year to go to the roll out of the system it was clear, she said, that central and local government were ill prepared.

The charity said it wanted to engage with authorities to develop the new services needed by disabled people. It is contacting the Minister for Care Services and every MP and council in England and Wales setting out recommendations for urgent action.