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Voluntary and community groups to join with councils in improving ...
Voluntary and community groups to join with councils in improving

access and support

Health minister Jacqui Smith today announced important new

regulations requiring all councils to offer direct payments (cash in

lieu of social services) as an alternative to existing services

arranged by local councils.

Ms Smith said:

'Direct payments are an important vehicle for the promotion of

independence and choice for adults using social services. Requiring

councils to offer direct payments is a key step in our continuing

commitment to promoting independence and freedom of choice. It is

part of a determined shift in focus and power to individuals.

'Direct payments give people the means to make the day to day

decisions to best fulfil their individual needs. Having the choice

will enable people to purchase the level and type of care they

require, as well as the freedom to buy equipment and services, which

meet their individual circumstances and promote a better quality of


'Everyone deserves the right to lead a dignified and independent

life, and to be able to remain in their own home for as long as they

wish. These new regulations and improved support networks will enable


Access to direct payments give individuals greater choice and control

over how their support needs are met. Popular with people needing

social services, an expanding body of research shows they improve the

quality of life for those who have access to them. Individuals can

make more suitable arrangements to meet their needs and this enables

them to remain in good health for longer.

Direct payments can benefit a whole range of people and making them

more accessible is vital. For example, despite older people being the

largest single group of people needing community care we know they

are less likely to have direct payments than any other group. These

new regulations will help improve the take-up of direct payments, not

just by these older people, but for every group in need.

Experience has shown that a strong support network is fundamental to

a successful scheme, and these have been most commonly provided by

the voluntary sector, in particular those led by disabled people.

With this vital contribution played by the voluntary sector in mind,

health secretary Alan Milburn last year announced the establishment

of the Direct Payments Development Fund, which will be made available

for investment in direct payments support services. This money (£3m

per annum over the next three financial years) will be targeted

at national, regional and local voluntary organisations, in

partnership with local councils, to enable them to play a significant

role in the development and promotion of direct payments.


1. Direct payments (cash in lieu of social services) for adults of

working age were introduced in April 1997, through the Community Care

(Direct Payments) Act 1996. They were extended to older disabled

people in 2000. Since April 2001 (Carers & Disabled Children's Act

2000) Direct Payments have been available to carers.

2. The new regulations will come into force on 8 April 2003 which

will require councils to make direct payments to people who have an

assessed need and are able to manage them (alone or with assistance).

3. Most people in receipt of social services from the council are

eligible for a direct payment. More specifically the following groups

of people can receive direct payments:

- older people who have been assessed as needing community care


- disabled people aged 16 and over including people with short as

well as long term needs

- carers in place of carers' services

- families with disabled children for children's services disabled

parents for children's services

4. The DH will soon be seeking bids from voluntary organisations in

partnership with local authorities, for projects to support the

expansion of access to Direct Payments. A comprehensive Policy and

Practice guidance and further information on criteria for bids will

be available at: - by end of April.

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