Campaigner says national agency is vital to managing direct payments

A national agency is needed if direct payments are to be
implemented consistently, a leading disability campaigner said this
week, writes Amy Taylor.

Nick Danagher said an agency could tackle inconsistencies in
eligibility criteria and direct payment support services between

Danagher, executive director of the National Centre for Independent
Living, was speaking at a Community Care conference on the adult
care services green paper.

There are significant variations in the take-up of direct payments
between authorities, but a national agency would call into question
the role of local government in social care, given the government’s
ambitions to extend choice for users.

Danagher said, under his plans, assessments would no longer be
shaped by councils’ budgets and would consequently meet all

But John Dixon, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social
Services disabilities committee, disagreed with Danagher’s

He said: “The idea is attractive in terms of consistency but I
don’t think it’s politically feasible to separate assessment from
resources. Governments are not in favour of writing blank

Danagher said the agency he proposed would be similar to that which
runs the Independent Living Fund but would be more accountable to
disabled people and have a statutory basis. The ILF is paid for by
the government and provides financial support to disabled people to
enable them to live in the community.

Danagher said a direct payments agency could amalgamate funding
streams, other than that for social care, along the lines of the
individual budgets proposed by the green paper. But he was
concerned that local authorities, which would hold the budgets on
behalf of the people using services, would amalgamate funds
differently. “I wonder whether that’s going to work well and
consistently at a local level,” he said.

The conference was organised by the ADSS and Pavilion.

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