A Department of Health-funded report has called for independent brokers who organise support packages for individual budget users to be regulated by service users and carers.
Research into the role of brokers by social inclusion charity the National Development Team suggested that local committees of service users and carers could set training requirements and also have the power to strip brokers of their status.
There are around 100 independent support brokers in England, but this could grow to around 11,000 with the roll out of the Department of Health’s personalisation agenda from 2008-11, the report suggests.
Councils should not employ brokers
The NDT’s report recommended that brokers should not be employed by care agencies and councils, and that funding should come directly from people’s individual budgets, to put the service user in control. Currently, brokers tend to be funded from grants or contracts.
Many see brokers as crucial to the process of implementing individual budgets, but at present there was “very little clarity” about their role, the NDT found. The report, Custom and Control, defined the role of broker as an independent professional who is paid to research, plan, and organise support packages on behalf of individuals, up to the point of implementation.
The NDT stopped short of calling for compulsory regulation, given the size of the existing workforce. An overly-stringent regulatory system might also compromise the self-empowerment principles of the personalisaton agenda.
No to too much regulation
The report’s author, NDT director of development Steve Dowson, warned that over-regulation could lead to brokers becoming “professionalised in a bureaucratic, self-serving way”.
“Local committees would ensure brokers are accountable to the service users and the families they work for,” he said.