A Personalisation Dusk
I can’t believe I’m writing this post less than 24 hours after the “A Personalisation Dawn” post. I just want to scream. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH.
Yesterday, the council loaded the personal budget onto the prepaid card. They have a really weird system where 25% of the annual personal budget is paid in the first month and all subsequent 11 payments are for a lesser amount than a normal four weekly figure.
I transferred a large sum of money from the prepaid card into the old direct payment bank account to cover: 1) the support workers’ wages for this week, 2)the cab fares for this week and the next four weeks, 3) the support workers wages for the next month that I will be paying on a weekly basis. My plan was to transfer this week’s wages from the DP account into the workers’ accounts on Friday afternoon. And then do the same for the next four weeks. I get 1 1/2 hours free time on Friday whilst Steven is at the Mencap pool, so this seemed to be a good time to get the job done.
This afternoon I received a phone call from Hillingdon’s Direct Payments manager. It was not pleasant. I felt like a naughty schoolboy. She had checked the account (after one day!!) and noticed that I was conducting the prepaid card not in accordance with Hillingdon’s policy. It is against the policy to transfer wages into an account and pay them from there. All support workers wages must be paid straight from the card into their bank accounts. At 50p a transaction. I was to transfer the money straight back onto the card. The council cannot audit or monitor the prepaid card any other way.
I tried immediately to transfer the money back onto the card and then learned something else that nobody had bothered to tell me. Monies transferred from the card into an account take three days to get there. So, by using Hillingdon’s system, I won’t be able to pay the support workers on Friday as they are expecting. She phoned me at 3.55 and a transaction has to be done by 4pm for that day to count in the “three working days” timescale.
In the last month, I’ve met or spoken to the social worker, the support planner, the direct payments officer, someone from the local disability charity who the council commission to “provide personal budget support”, the fairer charging officer and an agent from the prepaid card company. Not one of them told me that I couldn’t transfer the funds into the DP bank account. Not one of them told me that the funds take three working days to clear. Six fucking people and I’m doing their job for them. All they have to do now is monitor, audit and provide non-existent support.
I checked the personal budget contract that I’ve just signed. Nowhere does it mention that the wages have to be paid direct from the card. It mentions that Hillingdon’s prefered option of payment is using the prepaid card but nothing else. So surely if it suited me better, we could forget all about the card and they pay me as they have done for the last seven years. I could do the wages at a time that suited me. I could foster the good relationship I have with the support workers by paying them on time and when they do an urgent shift I can pay them immediately. And I can save quite a bit of money on the charge the card company levy for each transaction.
Another thing the direct payment officer said that worried me because it seems a real breach of data protection to me. She said that she would regularly ask to see the support workers’ bank statements to make sure that their account details match the ones showing up on the card account. Is that okay? I’m their employer – not the council. Is it right to ask my staff to handover their bank statements, which of course will have lots of other private transactions on them. I can’t believe they’re allowed to do that.
Of course this is all about trust and control. I’d hate to work in an environment where the culture was so distrustful and controlling. All those people who’ve been involved so far have nothing to do anymore – I’ve taken the whole load off their hands. Their sole role is to monitor, audit and bully. It’s very unpleasant.
I’ve written to all the people who’ve had their finger in Steven’s pie. I didn’t know who should be the main person I address it to because nobody seems responsible. That’s another thing about all this and must be the shadow side of social care emerging again – nobody is accountable so they make the carer overly accountable. For things the carer couldn’t possibly know unless one of the professionals tells them. And if the carer does something they don’t like, insidious little threats creep into the game.
I don’t think anything Hillingdon are doing is about Personalisation. It’s their way of cutting support packages whilst maintaining and growing the massive internal and external industry that has prospered out of the personalisation agenda.
It really does stink.
From → Social Care