Direct payments on the slide in Wales

The number of people in Wales using direct payments has fallen in
the past year while three councils are still failing to offer them
just days before its mandatory introduction.

Of the 70,000 service users eligible for a direct payment under the
existing voluntary scheme, just 59 are using it. This is 10 fewer
than in 2003 reflecting, according to a report by Age Concern
Cymru, a number of deaths in some authorities.

Of the 16 Welsh councils offering direct payments, Powys was the
most successful, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total, with
Neath Port Talbot (eight) and Monmouthshire (seven) next. Cardiff,
Newport and Blaenau Gwent Councils failed to offer any direct
payments, despite assurances last year that they would.

From November, Welsh councils will be obliged to offer the option
of direct payments to all eligible older and disabled people.

The report also finds that only seven councils had literature
specifically promoting direct payments for older people.

Sarah Stone, head of public affairs at Age Concern Cymru, said the
Welsh assembly needed to monitor more closely whether direct
payments were being offered and name and shame councils that were

“I hope this will be a wake-up call for local authorities. Workers
on the ground aren’t aware of how direct payments can help people,”
she said.

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