My Inflexible Friend
I’ve been winding myself up quite a bit in the last two days since my meeting with the Support Planner (see blog post below).
I guess I’ve been on a bit of a mission, with the original proposal for how Steven’s care is paid for, to achieve real “personalisation”, “in control”, call it what you will. I’ve naively thought that, with all the threats of cuts, this is the best way of Steven getting his care needs met. And at the same time, remove the middle men making such a lush profit from Steven’s disability. As it’s turned out, I have less control than before and we’ve gained three new middle men to replace the two we’ve lost.
Here is the piece from Hillingdon’s website about personal budgets: http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/media.jsp?mediaid=28190&filetype=pdf
It made me laugh because it is typical Hillingdon language. It’s full of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” and “if we find you’ve done this, we’ll slice your testicles off”. As a piece about selling their direct payment scheme, it’s guaranteed to have people running a mile from the scheme.
My big problem, apart from the glut of new middle men, is the pre paid card and the complete inflexibility of how they expect you to use it. It’s a pre paid card or nothing.
For the past few years, I’ve received direct payments to pay one support worker and to pay for respite. The money has always gone into a bank account every four weeks and I’ve kept meticulous records of how the money has been spent. The account is audited by the council every three months and they’ve never had a problem with the way I’ve managed it. Likewise, I have always paid the tax on time and never had any issues with HMRC. The support workers like the way I manage the package as well. I pay them one month in advance. And if I ask them to cover a shift at short notice, I can pay them on the spot. I know the guys appreciate this – they all live hand to mouth and this arrangement works very well for them.
Under the pre paid card scheme, I will have to use a payroll company to administer the wages and tax. One of the new middle men. Their preference is to pay a month in arrears. And they won’t pay more often than once a month because that is what their contract with the council stipulates. More frequent than that and they will charge the council extra. This is problematic. If I ask a support worker to cover an extra three hours tonight, under the new arrangement, it will be two months time before they get paid for that. The new middle man will slow the process down considerably.
It’s not like it can’t be done. In order for me to pay the cab firm, the council have agreed that I can transfer a sum each month from the pre paid card into the direct payment bank account, and then draw out money weekly to pay the cash fare. Why can’t I do the same with the wages? Because the council has a contract with the payroll company and another one with the company that supplies the pre paid cards, and another one with a local disability organisation to provide “advice and support”. And they have major trust issues.
I’m sure there are lots of carers that would want the opposite course to me. Who’d love to have a payroll company take over all the admin for them. That’s fine. But I thought personalisation was about flexibility and ….. well, personalisation.
My first ever post on this blog, nearly two years ago, was called “It’s Not What It Says On The Tin”. Here we go again…..
From → Social Care