access and support
Health minister Jacqui Smith today announced important new
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: www.doh.gov.uk/directpayments - by end of April.