carried out by the Independent Living Strategy Group and published by the charity In-Controladequate information about care options and service user’s rights being made available by local councils.
The Care Act places a duty on councils to provide information and advice about types of care, support available, service user’s rights under the Care Act and the choice of care providers in the area. All eligible service users are entitled to a personal budget but In-Control’s review found that this entitlement was ‘rarely emphasised’ in the quick guides to the Care Act produced by some councils.
Researchers also found evidence of some local authorities inferring that people opting to have their personal budget managed by the council would have less control over how it was spent than those choosing to receive a direct payment. The Care Act guidance states that the way a person opts to manage a personal budget should put “no constraint” on how their needs are met as long as “this is reasonable”.
Researchers asked people in receipt of care and support about their experiences over the year prior to the Care Act coming into force.
Of the 399 people who responded to the survey, almost half felt their quality of life had reduced and almost a third (30%) said that they had experienced a reduction of choice and control. Some 29% reported restrictions being placed on their use of direct payments or personal budgets, with 14% limited to choosing their care from a shortlist of providers. The study authors said these limited lists are at odds with the “vision of personalised care” underpinning the Care Act.
Disability researcher Jenny Morris said there was a “yawning gap” between the principles of the act and how it was being implemented in practice.
“Personal budgets were supposed to enable everyone who needed social care support to have the kind of choice and control that was previously only open to those receiving direct payments. Instead, they have been rolled out in the context of a major financial crisis facing adult social care, and the result is not only a reduction in choice but also a decrease in the quality of people’s everyday lives,” she said.
“This is the government’s responsibility and they must act.”
In a bid to help local authorities meet their Care Act obligations, In-Control has produced a checklist of information for people receiving care and support.