Benefits to improve care and mobility arrangements for people with
learning difficulties are being routinely misused by carers, it is
A front-line worker said she knew of people appointed to look after
disability living allowance payments for service users who were
then spending them inappropriately.
“Parents or other appointees do not have to specify how they have
spent the money,” said the woman, who has worked in the learning
difficulty field for 22 years .
Andrew Holman, director of advice and support organisation
Community Living, said it was a long-standing problem.
He said the benefits were often thrown into the family pot and
spent on the family rather than on the individual’s care or
“The system is open to abuse, it is totally unregulated and
unchecked, and relies on the goodwill of the parent or carer to
spend the money appropriately,” he said.
Holman warned that often the situation prevented people with
learning difficulties from living independently as their families
became reliant on the extra income.
Although the Mental Capacity Bill addresses the problem of
financial abuses, Holman warned that it did not go far enough and
would be difficult to regulate on the ground.
“In principle it would be clear that the money should be spent on
what that person wants, but one fears that in practice that will
not be so,” he said.
“There is no suggestion yet that this information will even get to
these families,” he added, proposing that the bill’s code of
practice be built into the benefits payment system to raise
But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said it would
be inappropriate for the government to tell people how to spend
their benefits and there were no plans to change the current
She said there were no checks as to how appointees spent the money,
although the department would investigate complaints of
Rob Greig, national director of Valuing People, said the matter was
not on the Valuing People support team’s agenda as it had “not been
flagged up to us as a major issue”.
“This is the first time in my role that this has been explicitly
raised with me as a problem.”