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Is There A Decoder In The House?

June 29, 2015

Well, blow me down with a feather.

Every time I write a Committee Room Five story, I pause before pressing “publish” and consider if I’ve gone way over the top. But usually, within 24 hours a story will come along that shows that Deidre Trussell and her Newport Pagnellshire gang are just small fry in the real world.

Tomorrow is the day the Government closes the Independent Living Fund. They have always maintained it is not a cost cutting exercise as the money has been passed on to Local Authorities to administer.

A couple of weeks ago, Disability Rights UK published the results of their FOI requests to Local Authorities where they asked the question whether they would be ringfencing the ILF money. 106 LAs responded. Several admitted they were still undecided! Only 29 stated that they would be ringfencing. One of those 29 was Hillingdon. Being a Hillingdon resident, it felt good and reassuring, even though Steven has never received money from the ILF. It looked like they were doing the decent thing.

This morning, Victoria Derbyshire ran a piece on the ILF closure and presented the stories of two people for whom their ILF money currently gives them a fulfilling life. One of them, Mary, lives in Hillingdon. After talking through Mary’s fears, the reporter read out the following statement from Hillingdon:

“We are committed to meeting the care needs of adults in the borough who are eligible for support. Until Mary’s new package is in place, she will continue to receive the same level of support”.

Now, is it me, or does that statement need some serious decoding?

The first sentence doesn’t need any attention at all. It is such a standard, bland cliche that it is totally meaningless. It also states the obvious in a way that makes it look like they are being benevolent. Or going beyond the call of duty. Meeting care needs is their job. That is what they are paid to do. You don’t hear milkmen saying, ” I am committed to delivering the milk” do you.

It is the second half of the statement that sets off an orchestra of warning klaxons. It clearly implies that Mary keeping her ILF is only temporary. Until her care needs are reassessed. Why do they need to be reassessed? The only thing that has changed is the transfer of bureaucracy – nothing to do with Mary’s needs. And if they are committed to ringfencing the ILF money, why do they need to insert that clause. A clause that says nothing definite but is bound to generate anxiety.

I’ve tried to decode it but its made my brain weep.

Does anyone else want to have a bash?

Update 30th June.

There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter and I realise I was wrong to dismiss the first sentence as not needing attention. Several people have a hand in writing these statements and I fell into the trap they set. I missed the clause at the end of the sentence – “who are eligible for support”. As the LA sets its own elibility criteria it is a bar that is frequently raised as the ethical and moral bar drops. So, the ” commitment is only there as long as the eligibility criteria is met. Mary may have needs but they have to be the LAs predetermined needs for it to mean anything.

I’m a novice at this decoding business.


From → Social Care

  1. anonymous permalink

    “We are committed to destroying lives”.

  2. Liz@jesslinworld permalink

    Agree they are weasal words but I think councils only get the extra money from DWP for a year:(

  3. wiseupwales permalink

    Yep, eligibility criteria are conveniently adaptable and moving the goalposts at whim isn’t limited to the state sector. In the early 80s, I volunteered at Centrepoint nightshelter for ‘vulnerable young people’ in London. As demand increased, Centrepoint’s definition of ‘young’ moved steadily downwards from 25. Eligibility for local authority services is well on its way towards ‘already dead’ and being dead leads to an automatic disqualification…

  4. meg permalink

    The language that is used to justify cost cutting dressed up as ‘new and positive initiatives’ in adult learning disabilities, boggles me. How on earth are LD adults to negotiate such ideas as ‘accessing the new meeting hub’ (Costa’s) or the best yhet ‘seek assistance from your support network to access all of the many and varied opportunities we have to offer’. This blarney refers to shows, fairs, fiestas (expensive) and walking/cooking/basic skills groups which are already over-subscribed. Bloody brilliant

  5. Sally permalink

    May I have a go? “Committed to “means “we do -or are meant to do “with a layer of self congratulation and moral high ground added. (do they want a medal or a chest to pin it on?)

    “Who are eligible for support” – “we will raise the bar so high that many will no longer get anything and will pocket the remainder. The town hall needs a refit.. ”

    Every single time a service for funding for the disabled is reorganised there is a new assessment even though the person’s condition and needs are extremely well documented. As you say, why? There will be new selection criteria ( far higher) and often new rules about amount, duration etc. There will be new definitions of roles to remove responsibility. Poor Mary may find that the funding for her to do Xhas become a package of assistance to signpost her to using community resources and her own support system-to do X. Or not. Perhaps she won’t meet the criteria to do X any more.

  6. nic permalink

    I have a good friend who is too nice a person by far. She is waiting on our LA today, for the details of both her sons funding/charge. Over three decades of caring and she is reliably informed that ” we don’t do an assessment of your needs in this LA “. I haven’t been fully aware of the happy horse shit they have been feeding her in recent years but I am now. I will encourage her to request an individual disability disregard for charging to take account of those little extras over and above the, is it still £17 or £21? Five shredded t-shirts @ £3.50 a go this week . The care plan is unchanged so at least no miracle cure was performed in the transition from ILF. Did anyone ever tell her she could create a support plan with her sons in pictorial form? no they didn’t. The LA barely acknowledged her existence for over thirty years and now her entire family is at their mercy. Safe hands, I don’t think so.

  7. nic permalink

    The piece of code in any LA assessment everyone needs to keep in mind is any LA funds for assessed need will be reduced by 70% if informal support can be ticked. ILF enabled independence for adults living by choice in the parental home. They will be the first to be picked off. The first signposts to alternative support will be from experience ” local voluntary services “, for critical support, high support needs. Handing over £300 plus per month through gritted teeth was their do able.

  8. Pauline Thomas permalink

    When my son’s day centre was being axed, the reason’s given was that the building and the people in it were segregated from the local community. The truth was that most of the people went out from the day centre on a regular basis to other venues in the borough. Next door to the day centre was a small primary school. Most of the children were in school for roughly the same amount of hours as the disabled adults next door. Were they being segregated from the community? Of course not. They were socializing with their peers. They were being educated. They were learning to exist for a few hours without their parents.

    The LA’s PR men had a field day explaining how much better life would be in the new ‘hub’. The two dead shops that were converted into a ‘hub’ were in the middle of an estate which was laughing described as ‘vibrant’. So vibrant that the local lads urinated down the air vent into the ‘hub’ one day.
    The ‘hub’ had to have the windows frosted over so that people going past could not see in, which also meant that the people using the ‘hub’ could not see out. It was known as the room without a view. The PR boys in our LA made Tony Blair’s spin doctors look like amateurs.

  9. nic permalink

    my friend rang at 2pm, no news of the charge to be levied and a ” in six months things will be clearer ” for sure. She will have risen at 4:30 and been watching a crap monitor bought off ebay of 3″x2″ half the night for signs of a ‘due ‘ fit. 2pm on a hot as hell day , hungry and I bet she hadn’t peed since breakfast. Fuck you bastard LA, I was a Buddhist before we met.

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