Are You Being Served?
I’ve probably written about this before. I have written about this before. Today, my attention turns again to the social care “Fairer charging policy”.
This morning, I got a letter from the council notifying me that Steven’s contribution to his care package is overdue. I’ve been waiting for an up to date invoice but that’s another matter. As usual, the language was quite threatening. Completely unnecessary for a first reminder. But I guess it’s quite common now for State letters to adopt the tone and language of the debt recovery company. Even when it’s just a first notification letter.
Steven is levied a weekly charge for “non residential care services”. I’m not sure what that phrase means, so I looked it up on the council’s website. There is a 48 paragraph booklet on the “Fairer Charging Policy” but one paragraph that is missing is the one that tells you what exactly you are being charged for. Lots of warnings about what will happen if you don’t pay. Lots of instructions on how to pay. But nothing on what the charge actually covers.
I tried to work out what “services” the council actually provides now that Steven receives a personal budget. They pay the budget onto the prepaid card once a month. They micro manage to a ridiculous degree how I use the card. They audit the account from time to time. They conduct a fairer access to care services assessment once a year. That’s it. Steven doesn’t use one of the few remaining day centres. He doesn’t got to their respite home. We don’t ask for the input of the positive behaviour team, the learning disability psychologist, the speech therapist or the occupational therapist. There are no other services.
So, is providing the personal budget a service? Is money a service? Since we’ve had the personal budget, my workload has shot up. You could argue I am providing them with a service. They don’t have to deal with support agencies anymore. There is no commissioning. They don’t have to do contracts or payrolls. I do all that now. that they chose to carry out such microscopic surveillance is their choice – I didn’t ask for that service (if that’s what it is).
Surely, a personal budget is a sum of money paid to fulfil a statutory duty to meet an assessed need. Is there any other payment made by the State that requires the recipient to pay for receiving that payment?
Imagine I hire a decorator to paint my bedroom. I pay him for the Paint and equipment he will need. But then he introduces “personalisation decorating” and hands over the paint brushes and paint to me and tells me to get on with it. Will he still be able to charge me for his service?
There is no point in challenging this. Even if someone accepted that the fairer charging policy for a non service isn’t right, it would only get rebadged as something else and charges would be reintroduced. And as a few of us were discussing on Twitter earlier, there is always a price to pay for challenging the king’s new clothes.
From → Social Care