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False Start For The Personal Budget

March 25, 2014

A pissed off post. Money. Money. Money.

First up, I’ve been really busy over the last few weeks, speaking at various conferences across the country. I like doing them and from the feedback I receive, I think I have something important to say. But it’s like getting blood from a stone trying to get paid for them. As I write, I haven’t received a single penny from any of the organisations that invited me to speak. One of them, Birmingham University, got me to prove (a) my identity and (b) that I was a British National and now appear to have lost my birth certificate. This is the one where Justice Baker spoke – I wonder if they put him through the same hoops. As my normal work is self employed, I obviously lose my normal pay when I’m doing a conference. And on top of that, I have to pay ahead for the hotel, travel and carer for Steven. Things were so bad last week, I had to borrow some money to buy the weekly shop. It’s a shame but I’m going to have to ration these events in the future.

On to the personal budget, which is turning into a bit of a nightmare.

From my very first discussion with the support planner, we talked about the start of the new financial year as the starting date for the personal budget. So, all my plans were geared to taking over the staff and transport payments from 7th April. That fits in nicely because the council pay their direct payments on a 4 weekly basis and that is the date the next payment is due. Now I’m told that the personal budget starts from 1st April but it won’t be credited to the card until 7th April. So what am I meant to do for that first week? Ask the support workers to wait a week without pay? Keep Steven indoors all week because there is no money to pay the cabs? Systems again.

And I have big doubts whether the money will even be available on 7th April. I’ve written before that Hillingdon’s procedure is to issue me with a pre paid card and I transfer money from the card to pay the wages and the cab firm. Today I was told that the card was ordered last Thursday and takes about 10 working days to arrive, followed later by a PIN number. Ten days takes us to three days after the personal budget should have started. And then I still have to wait for a PIN. I find this astonishing. It’s now about 2 months since I met the support planner and she said that setting up the PB from April gives us “more than enough time”. Apparently not.

The other big pain is the fares of the cab firm. It was probably my fault but when I submitted my original proposal to the council, I asked the regular cab drivers what an MPV cash fare would be for each of Steven’s journeys and based my figures on what they told me. The cab firm, after several adjustments, are still asking for £40 per week than I’ve been allocated. I don’t understand why there should be such a big discrepancy between what the drivers are saying and what the managers are saying. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve got a couple of cheaper quotes from other firms but it will be a real wrench to leave this firm as Steven has such a good relationship with all the drivers. The only other alternative is for Steven to lose one of his trips but that doesn’t feel right also.

I’ve said before that I can see why Personalisation is a great big flop. I can see why people don’t want to touch personal budgets with a bargepole. I really thought I was doing everyone a favour when I made my proposal to take over the whole budget myself. I shouldn’t have been so naive or altruistic. The amount of time and energy dealing with lots of labyrinth systems isn’t worth the end result. Tomorrow, I have two hours free before work as Steven has planned a 4 episode Mr Bean session with his support worker. That is now going to be consumed by trying to fix up a new cab contract and working out how and how much to pay the support workers for those “Bermuda Triangle” days from 1st April to 6th April before I get the personal budget.

Why was I such a fool? (No need to answer that)

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From → Social Care

7 Comments
  1. Sally permalink

    I’m so sorry that on the threshold of getting the blasted budget off the ground you are faced with further idiotic delays.Added to that the delay in getting paid for your talks…

    One matter never yet covered in any of the articles/panel shows debating/bashing those who get into financial trouble is the section of people who are plunged into trouble becasue of just what you are describing. A delay. A late form. A late payment. Something being stopped, and a hideous lag in it being reinstated. Unlessyou have a great deal of savings you can’t cover such periods.

    For those of us looking after disabled young people lags and delays are even more catostrophic.Without Steven’s carers being paid you can’t walk out the door and go to work.For you to do any work means money going out for caring.Perhaps you should say to future engagements you are happy to speak but want the money handed to you/in your account on the day.

    I find it damning that someone as clever, motivated, energetic, organsied as you working flat out is having such trouble with a personal budget. This is what is presented as an easy option bestowing freedom on us all. Your current experiences are worth a talk in themselves-“Why don’t parents want personalisation? Let me show you!”
    Good luck.

  2. Sodding brilliant. I sent the letter to the social worker saying that I wanted to ditch the idea of the personal budget. And then two angels appeared. Firstly, I phoned the cab firm that my sister has used for 20 odd years and they can do all the trips at a cost that comes under budget. That will be great because then I’ll have money spare that can be banked for hospital, dentist visits. Then the social worker phoned with 2 offers – she would go back to Panel and request they increase the budget to what the current cab firm are asking. I told her about the new firm and she said we should go with them but if there is a problem with a new firm she can go back to Panel at a later date. Fantastic. And, she is sorting out a bridging payment so I can pay the workers for next week. I should get the card with the money on it in the next couple of days.

    • ParentCarer permalink

      From my personal experiences it is better to get the right budget at the start rather than go back to panel at a later date as every thing with social services takes so long and too stressful. I am telling you lots of parents would not touch Persoal budgets with a barge pole. This whole personalisation saga is to get us to do the work that the social services dept. should be doing. They get paid for all the admin. work and you are doing it for free I feel it is all a big con trick.

  3. Weary Mother permalink

    Yes, it is very easy these days to only see (and feel) the awful and ill thought out Social Policy and silly social care/support models. But there are many hard working and caring coal face workers, like my son’s super (current) care manager, who are over worked and yet have to take the blame when things go wrong. (Poor bloody infantry always?) We all know who they are, and a big thank you to them.

  4. simone permalink

    It’s simple, do not attend the conference unless you are paid. Remind universities that all the other speakers will be paid (i.e. paid academics, paid civil servants and all their own staff). It does work – Its amazing how quickly universities will pay if you make it very clear that a fee is expected. I very rarely not get paid – because the word gets around that I do expect to be paid a fee. Universities makes millions out of students fees, research grants, doing commissioned work – so there is plenty of dosh in the pot. Oh I should say like you I am self-employed and have learnt to be tough! Good luck – all universities are more than capable of paying you a fee.

    • simone permalink

      t’s simple

      It simple do not attend the conference unless you are paid. Remind conference organisers that all the other speakers will be paid (i.e. paid academics, paid civil servants and all their own staff). It does work – Its amazing how quickly conference organisers will pay if you make it very clear that a fee is expected. I very rarely not get paid – because the word gets around that I do expect to be paid a fee. Universities and conference organisers makes millions out of students fees, research grants, commissioned work, delegates very expensive rates – so there is plenty of dosh in the pot. Oh I should say like you I am self-employed and have learnt to be tough! Good luck – all universities and conference organisers are more than capable of paying you a fee. It’s simple if they want you, you pay. Oh I make sure that conference organisers pay for all my expenses up front -i.e. they organise my hotel booking etc. I am not an unpaid admin worker – which appears they think you are.

  5. Hi Mark.
    Shame on the University of Birmingham. Your “story” is an inspiration to all. I was at Birmingham on that day and your “story” reminds us in social care why we went in to this area of work in the first place. I hope that other students will be able to benefit from having you attend training events in the future. It was an excellent day and the highlight of the course.
    I do hope that you have finally been paid and your birth certificate located.
    thanks Mark
    regards
    Jo

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