Ladyman to act on councils that are slow to promote independent living

The government may force councils to make funds available for
disabled people to live independently, community care minister
Stephen Ladyman said last week.

Speaking at the annual independent living conference in London, he
acknowledged that some councils had tried to avoid their duties on
independent living.

Delegates told Ladyman that some councils had raised eligibility
criteria for entitlement to help to the point where they were
having problems qualifying, even when they had severe

Ladyman said: “I accept that some local authorities do stretch the
law. Some councils do set [thresholds] far too high and some
councils have not passed all that money on. It might be that we
have to set some guidance centrally.”

Ladyman again expressed his desire for direct payments to become a
central feature of social care. He told the conference: “I am
concerned that direct payments are not taking off. Numbers were,
and are, rising, but nowhere near as fast as they should be.

“I know that direct payments are not always the first option to
spring to a care manager’s mind. Some will be anxious about the
direct cost. But I want care managers and social services staff to
become immersed in direct payments.”

Independent consultant Jenny Morris, who is working on independent
living for the prime minister’s strategy unit, said there was a
tension between local autonomy and national guidance on the use of
eligibility criteria.

“That dilemma is something we are still grappling with,” she said.
“I think we are going to suggest there is some piloting of what the
best way is and the key thing would be to involve disability

Outgoing national centre chair Menghi Mulchandani told a conference
workshop that greater honesty between social services departments
and users about what services were available would be appreciated
by users.

“They are trying to stop us using the services and we are trying to
get the services,” she said. “It is about money at the end of the

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