IMPLICATIONS OF MOVING WITH A DIRECT PAYMENT
Having moved house and changed Local Authority about 18 months ago, I find myself making comparisons regarding Direct Payments, and how they are ‘controlled’ by the LA. I thought the idea was that once awarded DP you would have the ability to have support and a PA when you wanted it, employing your own carefully selected PA, completing payroll yourself (should you wish to), writing your own contract, choosing your own employers insurance company and cover, and all importantly having the flexibility to have your PA when you needed them and where you needed them.
This was the case for my initial LA. We had autonomy over who, what, when, where, with a quarterly report to submit and a copy of the bank statement.
The new LA is not so flexible. We have a prepaid card, not a dedicated bank account, an outline job description was provided with gaps for us to fill in, and a space to add some extra details, payroll is completed by the LA, the LA set the amount they are prepared to pay for employers insurance, (if you choose to go to another provider or wish to have a higher level of cover then you pay the extra yourself), and they have 2 preferred hourly rates of pay. The only real autonomy is in selecting the PA, which is great.
I asked what happened if we didn’t use the ‘assessed’ hours in a 4 week period, could we carry them over, “No, not really” was the response, what if we wanted to ‘save’ hours one month as we had a need for additional support the following month, that was also actively discouraged, as the assessed need stated the hours of support needed, if additional hours were needed, a request to panel should be made. The only suggestion was that as long as the set hours are ‘used’ within the 4 week period then that’s kind of OK. So there is some flexibility within a 4 week period of when the PA works.
So where is the flexibility and autonomy in this set up?
This is not really independence and choice, or am I missing something?
Having had so much control in the past, I am struggling with this new set up. I find it quite stressful to keep on top of the number of hours over a 4 week period, as the PA and I want the hours to be as flexible as possible to offer the best support at the right time, and not waste them because we have to ‘use or lose’ hours.
This rigidity within the LA, has a potential impact on my daughter, as the PA is for her, and I, as the parent, am the employer. We have already had the situation where they have been late back and the PA has worked an additional hour that I could not pay her for, so she worked an hour less the next time. Is this juggling game always going to be a part of our lives so my daughter can live her life independently, making choices as to when she is supported? Or do I need to start encouraging her to think about the restrictions the LA place on her, and me?
It’s a real dilemma.