Readers’ letters, Community Care, 26 August 2010

The future of the independent living fund and delivering personal budgets in Essex

There’s no plan to cut independent living fund

Our regular and extensive discussions with independent living fund recipients paint a different picture from the one portrayed by Simon Stevens in Service User Voice.

Yes, our trustees have taken some difficult decisions because restrictive cash limits were set by the previous government while demand for our help continued to grow.

But we have met the challenge of protecting the support we give to all existing users.

But Stevens goes on to speculate about future cash restrictions and then to criticise us for failing to address them properly, which I cannot let pass unchallenged.

Our funding for the current year, set by the previous government, is insufficient to allow us to take on further new users or to increase awards. Next year’s will be determined by the coalition.

Stevens seems to assume that the government will allocate insufficient funding to protect users’ current awards, necessitating the ILF to cut them by 10%, and suggests that instead we reassess everyone against some new eligibility criterion.

I want to make clear that every ILF user has been carefully assessed against detailed eligibility criteria, that funding for the ILF from 2011 has yet to be determined, that there is no proposal to cut awards by 10% or any other percentage, and that we have no plans to introduce controversial criteria in order to treat users differentially.

Patrick Boyle, chief executive, ILF


Essex positive on personal budgets

The article stating Essex ­”imposes” direct payments is based on a report Delivering Personal Budgets for Adult Social Care: Reflections from Essex.

Essex Council commissioned the Office of Public Management to write the report in partnership with the council and Essex Coalition of Disabled People.

It was part of a three-year longitudinal study to enable the council and its partners to learn from the significant change programme to implement Putting People First in Essex.

The article fails to mention that the report is based on the first stage of implementation in October 2008. The experiences of the service users and carers involved relate to this period and we have already responded to the findings.

We also provide further training to help staff understand how to empower people and provide further support to service users to enable them to make informed choices on their care.

The report also highlighted many of the successes from the implementation of personal budgets in Essex: staff did embrace the change and service users could access personal budgets from the start. There was also evidence of creative planning and solutions.

For us in Essex the report is positive about our approach and confirmed that personal budgets are the way forward.

Jenny Owen, deputy chief executive and executive director for adults, health and community wellbeing, Essex Council


These letters were published in the 26 August 2010 edition of Community Care

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