Are local authorities starting to rally behind Direct Payment employment again?

It’s been a positive start from 2019 so far with lots of interesting regional meetings. Skills 4 care have put on a series of very informative events across the country which have highlighted a renewed vigour from some local authorities to promote and push direct payment employment. This seems to have been borne out through meetings as well. These are promising signs for independent living in 2019 and it does beg the question why the change? First I guess that we need to address whether there has been a change before we look into why it has come about. Over the last few years we (David, Myles and I) have visited many of you and when discussing DP employer numbers are often told that they are flat. This is due to as many coming onto the DP initiative and employing as no longer in receipt of a DP. This stagnation is usually attributed to the lack of PA’s available, and small packages of care on offer. In many areas the overall DP numbers are increasing as more clients opt for care agencies that are not commissioned by the local authority and as such require a Direct Payment. The rise in this type of support often masks the slowdown in direct payment employment route. ….employing a personal assistant (PA) is the best option for you as it enables you to lead an independent life in your own home. It gives you a more flexible and tailor-made package of support as per your care and support needs. You are in control as you directly instruct your own staff (PA’s) to carry out the tasks that you require assistance with. You have a say in choosing your PA who will offer you the help you need at home. Disability rights uk It’s important that we see a growth in DP employment as this seems to be both the most rewarding way of receiving support as it gives the most control and puts the focus on the service user. It generally yields a greater choice and when used effectively can save the public purse some money. The growth will also re-emphasise the need for support for service users and their families and ultimately, hopefully lead to more opportunities for the service user to be able to live independently, work, rest and play. The role of the support organisation in these circumstances is paramount as they will give confidence to both the employer and the social worker should they have a wobble. As to why I think there has been a change. I think it is because if we look at the original rationale for direct payment employment. To put the customer first and to increase choice flexibility and control. Alongside this the financial circumstances within the public sector are such that a tried and tested method which meets a commitments to independent living and saves money will turn heads. Independent Living takes many guises and the important thing is focusing on what is right for the citizen whether that be commissioned services, ISF, direct payment, or any other vehicle. To make a decision on what is right the citizen or their nominee need to understand the options otherwise the choice will be a lucky dip. Over to you