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Direct Payment Power Games

April 22, 2014

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

  1. I am deafblind and sometimesneed to need to use a wheelchair.
    I have had a dp and employed a pa for 11 years. Recently i haved been challenged over my use of money with demands by a senior manager to meet her to explain.
    I have also for the last 3 years been trying to get a section 7 assessment it was only agreed at at the last minute when the la were threatened with a judicial review it said i needed more money to have a specialist worker.
    The response a proposed cut of 2 thirds.
    It is now back to solicitors.

  2. Sally permalink

    I was “awarded” -the word itself is loathsome with its suggestion of a gift-direct payments for my then 5 year old disabled son after a long battle. 4 hours a week.Person to help look after child in the afternoons allowing me to cook/attend to my other children. Several home assessments around this and frequent reviews in which I was made to justify every minute of time DP used for.
    Its like being beaten up. Every request is either deflected or put off, or you are put through endless assessments. They march into your house and demand snappy rersponses, but take forever to respond to calls. Frequently you find you have waited for nothing-the person who said they’d get back to you has left, or your case has been put on Duty, meaning they’ll do nothing unless you call.But they don’t tell you that. I have been put on Duty 5 times and each time found out by calling . Each time I am pompously told I “should have” been told about the change in our case’s status.

    To ask directly and specifically for resources (“I was this many hours/this much money “) is viewed as designing. You get a very negative response.

    Yet you can’t ASK what could be avaliable, they don’t tell you. Social work manager:”I am not going to get into that-our service is needs driven not resource driven.”) So you thrash about not knowing what you can ask for and terrified of asking for anything they don’t do and so losing your claim. I found that terrifying because I couldn’t do anything else is my son was with me-even to make a phone call was hard. Yet if I said I’d use the DP to do somehthng with the time the DP bought that wasn’t allowed I’d lose the lot.

    When I said I was depressed/overburdened they said that wasn’t a case for DP-I should speak to my GP.At every turn, everything I said was difficult they tried to suggest I get help elsewhere form a Charity/the NHS. But if Itried to appear as if I was coping, they dismissed my request. (“You’re doing fine and don’t need help.” “No, I am not” “Well then, see your GP”)

    Our negative story:At one review meeting a social worker (who had been pointedly complaining to me of resources stretched by “Middle class people with sharp elbows” ) was pacing the room reading our pin board and the children’s drawings /notices etc. She read my home made time table, pouncing on the fact that the worker paid for by DP picked up my son from school and took him to the playground on the way home 2 days a week.. (This gave me the chance to pick up the others from their own school and have a chat. The schools finished at the same time in opposite ends of the Borough)
    “That’s inappropriate!” she snapped. Payments suspended. They suggested I pay someone of my own money to walk my son home then pay out of the PA to get my son back to the playground next to his school.

  3. It took some time to set up but I have had dps for disabled son (SLD/ASD) with freedom to use the dps for carers who I can use flexibly, also have used for specific classes/activities with no issues. have now gone onto once yearly submission of accounts. (about £ 5,000 per year – I also get short breaks which is paid directly to the provider) it is saddening that some have to go thru such hoops.

    • weary mother permalink

      This a very important point. Not all LA’s are the sam. There are LA’s who are kind and flexible,compassionate even; LA’s who are suffering the same .cuts and pressures as the least kind or at all flexible LA’s. Some time ago I had a brief converstion in a forum with an outraged junior Adult Care operations manager of a LA. He did not recognise any of the concerns and issues, that I had raised, in this forum.

      We have fought accepting direct payments,(and have been and are under continuous pressure by LA to accept them) and my son receives his support from an agency commissioned and contracted directly by the LA. There are always problems around poor carers and repeated admin blips with the contract, but however slim the usefulness of LA complaints processes there is always this process and LA’s first responsibility for the contract, when things go wrong. We (any of us, by my understanding) do not have to accept direct payments, and this right is often well hidden.

  4. Hi Mark, I sent your blog post on to a colleague, who sent me back this article to send on to you:

    It dates from 2006, and it contains the following story: “We heard from a person receiving direct payments who had got a threatening letter because they couldn’t provide two KFC receipts.”

  5. Some very sad and alarming stories and because they are peoples actual experiences they should carry extra weight. We at SEMPA are trying to use experiences of disabled people wanting to live independently through employing their own PAs to promote their successes as well as flag the challenges you refer to. Whilst not suggesting it’s a panacea we believe a national Guild of employers of PAs might be a vehicle to pick up on the stories you share.

  6. Jayne knight permalink

    I help people with direct payments and personal budgets. I ave to charge a very nominal fee to do this of £20 per month. I then make sure that no one shits on people in the way you describe. Surely we could set something up nationally with a similar fee to mine, which gets put in the budget as admin, and show people that you can’t bully people. Some of the people who ave been bullied like this could maybe have a job this way.
    Why do they make more thing good into something mean.?

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