Government aims to make direct payments the norm

From p7 13 December issuePersonal care budgets and direct payments are to become the norm under a cross-government agreement that ministers claim is a groundbreaking reform for services.

Funded through a ring-fenced grant of £520m over the next three years, the Putting People First concordat sets out the principles by which local authorities, the NHS, voluntary agencies and private providers should work together to create a more personalised care service.

Aside from extending the use of individual budgets and direct payments, the concordat includes plans to develop central access points in most communities for information and advice on receiving social care, and encourage more self-assessment to help free up social workers’ time to spend on support, brokerage and advocacy.

Commissioners will also be expected to only use service providers that deliver high-quality, personalised care, while those that “fail to respect people’s dignity” are no longer contracted.

The concordat has been signed by six Cabinet ministers. Health secretary Alan Johnson said: “Our commitment that the majority of social care funding will be controlled by individuals, through personal budgets, represents a radical transfer of power from the state to the public. Everyone, irrespective of their illness or disability has the right to self-determinations.”

The Social Care Reform Grant, which was unveiled in the local government funding settlement last week, is to be worth £85m in 2008-9 and £195m and £240m in the following two years.

However, the settlement will see an average grant increase for education and social services of just 1% after inflation between 2008 and 2011, a figure the Local Government Association warned was insufficient to keep pace with the growing demand for older people’s care services.

● Providers to focus more on personalising services.
● First-stop shops created to deliver support and advice.
● Services need to focus on tackling isolation and loneliness.
● Most to use personalised budgets and direct payments.



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