Direct Payment Power Games
In the #107days blog today, I wrote about Hillingdon stopping Steven’s direct payments after he had been in the Unit for 3 months, saying it was their policy that the person no longer had the “use” of the person who had previously been supporting them now they were in a residential placement. Even if that were true, that is pretty foul. It totally demeans the person’s relationships and fucks the member of staff over big time. Actually, in our case, it wasn’t true. I found a paragraph in their policy that stated that direct payments could continue if it was in the person’s best interests. Needless to say, Hillingdon stopped the direct payment with immediate effect and it took two months for them to be reinstated.
A good friend of the Get Steven Home group has had her direct payments stopped as the carer did the washing up instead of supporting the client. Also, the support worker put the client to bed which on the care plan is the parent’s job. Breach of contract. End of direct payments.
Someone I know gets 4 hours direct payments a week for her seven year old son. A support worker takes the lad swimming and out for his tea in this time, giving my friend the only time she gets each week for herself. In February the boy went down with measles. His direct payments were stopped because “he was unable to use them for the purpose they were allocated”. My friend gave up trying to decode this statement and asked the social worker directly what this meant and was told that the lad’s care plan stated the direct payments were “awarded” to support him whilst swimming and as he couldn’t swim whilst infected, they had to stop. Two months later, the measles have gone and my friend fears, so have the direct payments. She’s waiting for the case to go back before panel to get them back.
One other story. A couple of years ago, someone contacted me after reading my book and asked for my help in finding a solicitor. She received 40 hours of direct payments per week for her adult autistic son. This arrangement had lasted four years. Earlier that year, her father had come from Ireland to live with her. The LA found out about this and wrote to her asking for the return of all the direct payments from the date he moved in until the present date – about £3000. They claimed the care plan was now nul and void because his presence in the home acted as a “deflator” (have I got that word right?). They threatened her with court action if she didn’t repay.
After my hassle over how I manage the personal budget, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, if when the next payment is due on 4th May, the LA decide to withhold it because I’ve not played by their rules.
These stories interest me because they are dirty tactics. The service user or their carer is suddenly painted as a villain, with horrid suggestions that they are defrauding the public purse. What is really happening is it’s just another disguised cut – an efficiency saving. Even if it’s only temporary some bean counter must decide it is worth it. And sod the disruption for the person who loses their means of support overnight, possibly never to be replaced again.
If anyone else has stories about the way direct payment/personal budgets get cut or removed for the most ludicrous reasons, please post them in the comments box or email them to me directly.
From → Social Care