The Approved Support Providers List
Another day. Another social care “choice and flexibility” scam.
Yesterday, I received the minutes of the latest local “Carer Experience Forum”. This is the regular gathering, organised by the council, where carers are invited to be told about the council’s latest wheeze to make the carers life better. This time it looks like only one item was on the agenda – the launch of the Approved Support Providers iniative.
A bit of background. For many years the council have awarded a contract to a local disability charity to provide support with all things direct payments. The council refuse to offer any advice or help on direct payments – they just signpost you to the charity. The council are excellent at not giving support. When I agreed to take on a Personal Budget, they diligently refused to answer any of my questions which left me feeling like I was on a major motorway with neither a car or a map.
However, I love our local charity. They found us our first support worker 15 years ago and he’s still with us. They spent hours with me at the start of the personal budget, teaching me how to run a payroll. Last year, I had a mental block over the tax return and they came round and held my hand as I sorted it out. Just last week they helped me as I was trying to organise self employed contracts for all the support workers.
The contract expires in July and the council have decided that the carers need more choice and flexibility in how they get their direct payment support. The council won’t be renewing the contract with DASH: in fact they won’t be awarding a contract to anyone. Instead, they will be issuing every carer with an Approved Support Providers list and the carer can chose a provider from the list and negotiate their own contract with them for whatever support they need. The carer then goes back to the council and tells them what sort of contract they’ve negotiated. The council then decides how much they will contribute towards your contract and allocate a sum of money in your personal budget to cover the cost of your contract with the approved support provider.
At the end of the minutes there is a Q&A and 24 questions are asked. Most of the questions are along the lines of: “I’m happy with DASH. Why do I have to change?” or, “Why can’t you do this for us?” Every question is met with the same robotic answer – “This is about the budget holder having more choice and flexibility in the most cost effective way for the council”.
Whilst reading the minutes, I truly felt the attendees pain and bemusement. Yet another burden in the name of choice and flexibility. As much as I like DASH, I couldn’t give a monkeys who provides the support but I don’t want to waste any more precious energy finding and negotiating that support myself. Just provide the fucking support and I’ll take what’s offered. You can call it choice and flexibility but really it’s about desperate penny pinching. And the end result is that the personal budget holder has gained another outsourcing maze to add to the many others he has to navigate in the name of Personalisation.
My immediate reaction is to go, “Sod it. I haven’t the time or inclination to go support provider negotiating, I’ll go without”. I’m sure lots of other carers will think and do the same.
And that’s precisely what the council want you to do.
Personal Budgets are totally inaccessible for many learning disabled people who haven’t got a carer to manage it for them. This new choice and flexible scheme is another nail in the coffin of accessibility.
From → Social Care