Feeling pretty nauseous.
The May payment of the Personal Budget was due to go into the bank account on bank holiday Monday. I’ve been interested to see what happens on two counts. Firstly, this was meant to be the first payment to include the new extra respite allocation. It was awarded from 11th April, so would have included the four nights for May, plus the three nights due from April. Secondly, I was pretty confident they would get it wrong. In the 24 months since we’ve been getting the Personal Budget it’s been either incorrect or late 17 times. A change in the rate of the budget was bound to cause a problem.
Presumably because of the bank holiday, the money went into my account yesterday. Not only did it not include any of the new respite allowance, it was actually £126 less than the old amount.
I phoned the direct payment team and was told that the new respite allocation had “missed the payment run”. There will be a second payment going into the account sometime next week to cover the respite.
Okay but why is this month’s budget £126 down on the usual amount? She couldn’t tell me this. Different department. She only processes the batch requisitions.
I had to give up for the day. An hour long phone call that gets nowhere drains me of energy.
This morning, the postman came early. There was a letter from Hillingdon’s financial resources team. It was notifying me that as from 11th April (the day the respite was awarded from), Steven was now being charged £29.72 per week for ” care services costs”. The letter also included a breakdown of how this levy had been calculated. The thing that struck me was there was no account of Steven’s outgoings. Another phone call…..
In fairness, the woman was lovely. Clearly embarrassed, she probably told me more than she should have. I pointed out that although Steven has had financial assessments for the last two years, neither had produced a charge. What was different?
Lots apparently. Firstly, the staff had been instructed to “reset the disability related expenditure markers to nil”. So, everyone’s assessment took no account of outgoings, even though there were columns for things like laundry, cleaning. Whatever was recorded last year, the default now is nothing and that tips you over the line into the ” chargeable ” category.
“How do we amend this?” I asked. After all, Steven still has those outgoings. Audibly cringing, lovely lady told me that I would have to write a letter with documentary evidence of Steven’s expenditure. “Do I also mention Steven’s council tax?” I asked next. This year, Hillingdon have scrapped their council tax disability relief, so he has an additional expenditure of £120. By now, I imagine lovely lady is as red as a beetroot. She tells me that council tax is an “allowable expense” but the forms haven’t been redesigned to ask the question. “Could you write it somewhere on the form”.
The final insult is that after ignoring relevant information they already have, not asking questions that could benefit the personal budget recipient, they then reduce your budget to claim these nefarious figures. And we are not told any of this. In the past, they paid the full budget and then you had to pay them for anything you’re charged for. Now, it’s deducted at source.
Let’s remember, the personal budget is the support workers wages. Whilst you’re waiting for the mistake to be rectified (could be up to six weeks), the staff still want paying.
Why is this the end of ethics in social care? Because social care exists to serve learning disabled people. Serve. Not rip them off. Not lie to them. Not withhold vital information that would benefit them. Not leave them in a situation where they can’t pay to have their assessed needs met.
This isn’t an accident. It’s not a mistake. This is deliberate policy. A group of people have sat in a room and agreed to treat their ” customers ” this way. That’s the point when you know that ethics are dead.