Minister demands social care staff double efforts to promote direct payments

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman told social care staff
to double their efforts to make direct payments available to people
with learning difficulties, writes Janet

He said the fact that just one in a hundred adults with a
learning difficulty receiving community services were on direct
payments was unacceptable when “the vast majority” could benefit
from them.

“The slow take up of direct payments among learning disabled
people is surely proof enough that many professionals do not
believe learning disabled people can manage their affairs, even
with assistance,” he said.

Speaking at a ‘Learning Disability Today’ conference in London,
the minister said that though the ideals in the Valuing People
white paper were gradually becoming a reality, there was still a
long way to go.

He said: “One real change that we haven’t brought about yet is
the change of culture and perception. The change that would see
genuine acceptance of what people with learning disabilities can
achieve and can offer.”

He added that many councils wrongly believed they had a duty to
offer direct payments when in fact they have a duty to make direct

“The assumption should be that all care will be delivered via a
direct payment,” he declared, stressing that it was important to
ensure that clients were properly supported to manage a direct

Ladyman said he would soon be announcing a new date for the
closure of long stay hospitals for people with learning
difficulties now it was clear the April 2004 deadline was going to
be missed.

Asked if he would allocate more cash to enable clients to move
out into the community he replied “if it is a funding issue I will
look to see what I can do…. But I think they dragged their
feet before they started on planning.”

Ladyman went on to say that he was angry that the £20
million allocated to strategic health authorities for people with
learning difficulties was being spent on other things, and he was
considering what action he could take on this.

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