Small increase in use of direct payments ‘very disappointing’


A lack of commitment by local authorities is to blame for a disappointingly small rise in the number of people receiving direct payments, according to a leading disabled campaigner.

The proportion of adults in England receiving their social care support through direct payments rose from 3.8 per cent in 2007-08 to 6.5 per cent in 2008-09, according to provisional figures released by the NHS Information Centre.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said the figures were “moving in the right direction” but still “very, very disappointing”.

She said: “I would have thought that with the commitment to personalisation and the rolling out of Putting People First [the government’s programme to personalise adult social care]the percentage would be higher, and it disturbs me that it isn’t.”

She said she believed the Department of Health (DH) was committed to the personalisation agenda, but her concern was the attitude of individual local authorities.

She said: “I think that the commitment is still not there to people being able to have choice and control over their own lives, and it’s really not good enough.

“It is more than a disappointing statistic. This is about people, and people not being able to enjoy what I think they should be entitled to.”

She said the figures demonstrated the need for disabled people to have a legal right to independent living, as outlined in Lord [Jack] Ashley’s independent living bill. 

Lord Ashley’s private members’ bill has consistently won support in the House of Lords, but has failed in the Commons because of government opposition.

A DH spokeswoman said they were “pleased” to see the increase. She added: “We want everyone to have maximum control and power over the support services they receive and we are working with local authorities and key partners to help them deliver this.”

The new figures also revealed a small rise in the proportion of adults receiving social services-funded support to live independently.

In 2006-07, 2,572 adults in every 100,000 received such support, rising to 3,143 in 2007-08. But the numbers only rose to 3,245 per 100,000 last year.

There was also a tiny improvement in the percentage of assessments carried out promptly.

The proportion of new clients who waited four weeks or less for a social care assessment rose from 79.5 per cent in 2007-08 to 79.8 per cent in 2008-09.

20 August 2009


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