Direct payments and independence stalled by discrimination

    Age discrimination is built into the direct payments system and is
    hindering independent living, Community Care LIVE’s
    Question Time panel heard last week.

    Frances Hasler, chief executive of the National Centre for
    Independent Living, said that the pressure to ensure direct
    payments for older people were cost effective meant that older
    people ended up with less to spend than younger people who are in
    receipt of direct payments.

    “The question of resources needs to be tackled,” Hasler said.
    “Direct payments have to be cost effective, so councils have to
    look at what would have been spent on traditional services [for
    older people].”

    Hasler said there also needed to be a change in the rules to allow
    over-65s to use the Independent Living Fund. “Discrimination is
    built into the current system,” she said.

    Commission for Social Care Inspection chair Denise Platt admitted
    that age discrimination existed in social care, but said it was a
    “by-product” of the system rather than deliberate.

    She said improvements would require “attitudinal change”, and that
    the CSCI would monitor progress by asking older people what choices
    they had been offered in terms of different services to meet their
    needs.

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