Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Best Time for Personal Budgets?

Time to open a can of worms……..

Ask a local authority official and you’ll most likely be told that the number of PB’s awarded rises year on year. Technically they’re right too. However, are budgets being used “creatively”? I say creatively as this is the word used by “professionals” in the authorities who want to see support plans which literally knock their socks off! For example, in a time of recession and mass unemployment amongst non-disabled youths, Support Planners are told they need to include employment/training opportunities for disabled people!

Those who have known me for a while will recall my prediction around 10 years ago when I said that staff at Disability Direct will be doing the job of Social Workers in the future. Support Planning and PB support services are a typical example of this. This approach was well received by social workers who could see we were helping them with their heavy workloads. But then came…..Council cuts.

Less Care Managers and even bigger workloads.  It’s been reported across the country and certainly in the East Midlands that staff in local authorities prefer to refer & keep the “case” internally. Work it out….why would staff behave in this way? I think you know the reason.

Additionally, is the service provider “market” ready to meet the “new” spending needs of PB holders? Again there will be two schools of thought on this issue. As CEO of a user-led group, I’m regularly told by users “it’s the same old money under a new name, spent on the same old services”. How true too!

 Some think tank in a smokey room came up with a great idea…. “Let’s support the creation of micro-providers who will add more variety to the social care market”. Great idea. As I’m typing this I can’t stop giggling….hence here I must say LOL (how cool and hip am I hey?). I giggled because as the government pumped money into stimulating micro-markets, it drastically reduced the services of Business Link Advisors. Again, you’re not daft, you can work out where Im heading here.

 Let me hark back to another prediction I made 2 years ago. Brokerage Services!….. “There’s going to be a need for brokers/support planners” they cried across the country. Suddenly, every man and his aunty set up to be a “Broker”……. I predicted that 75% of these brokers will be broke within a couple of years. Now don’t deny me… CEO in “Smug Mode”. If there’s no referrals then there will be no brokers!

 Now you’re asking….Oh knowledgeable smug one….What’s the answer to the above? The truth is… I don’t have an answer but I do have a thought as follows :

 The current plan is not working…..let’s be big enough to admit it and rewind not necessarily to the beginning but to a point where we can achieve realistic and meaningful outcomes …not for social workers, not for senior practitioners, not for ULO’s but for disabled people who battled for years to get a Personal Budget.

 I think It’s time for politicians, the local authority and ULO’s to sit around the table and smoke cigars again.

Agree?             Don’t Agree?                  CEO too smug?


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