‘Carers must not be forgotten in roll-out of direct payments’

Carers and their support needs should not be forgotten as councils seek to increase the number of service users receiving direct payments, a Carers UK report said yesterday.

The charity, who surveyed over 600 carers on the issue in June this year, said in many cases it was carers who ended up managing the direct payment and urged councils to ensure families did not end up saddled with inappropriate levels of administration.

The calls come with councils setting tough targets to extend direct payments, one of the aims of the government’s personalisation agenda.

Positive for majority

Its survey found that of carers with experience of direct payments, 53% were positive overall about them and almost three-quarters felt the care purchased as a result was better than previous provision for service users.

Also, almost half said they had better quality staff while a similar proportion reported having more free time since the people they cared for started receiving direct payments.

However, the survey found that a fifth of carers had less free time because of the time they spent on tasks including managing payroll, recruitment and organising training for staff.

No support for a quarter

Almost a quarter of carers did not receive any support from their council in managing their employment responsibilities. And while 85% were able to purchase at least the level of care required to meet service users’ assessed needs, 15% faced a shortfall. Carers UK warned carers themselves would probably have to make up this deficit.

The charity’s chief executive, Imelda Redmond, said: “Our survey demonstrates that for some families, becoming a ‘small business’ can be overwhelming. Without support, problems arise and instead of transforming lives, direct payments can cause added stress and work and make the situation worse.”

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