New research from the Economic and Social Research Council reveals that direct payments are being operated, and experienced, very differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Direct payments are funds paid by local authorities directly to disabled people, and other community care service users, to buy-in their own support, usually this takes the form of employing personal care assistants.
The payments, first introduced in 1997, have been controversial. Some have seen them as a covert means of privatising the delivery of public sector services, whilst for others they represent an important means of empowering those at the margins, of society by involving them as ‘co-producers’ of their services.
The research team, led by Professor Sheila Riddell of Edinburgh University, found:
• The uptake of direct payments varied greatly between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2003-04, they found a total of 18 authorities making no use whatsoever of direct payments - of these, 11 were in Scotland, five in Wales and two in Northern Ireland. In England, all local authorities used direct payments. In some parts of Scotland, on the other hand, union resistance, and the identification of direct payments with ‘creeping privatisation’, has had a negative effect on their uptake. Throughout the UK, in areas with low take-up of direct payments, there was evidence of professional, managerial and local political resistance.
• Local factors play a key role. The local culture of welfare, and the relationship between support organisations and local authorities, are important in either promoting, or inhibiting, the uptake of direct payments. Local authorities in England were far more likely to have designated direct payment officers, compared to those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• Support organisations for direct payment users are changing. In England only one quarter of such organisations were seen to be user-led. There was a higher proportion of user-led support organisations in Scotland but many of these saw themselves as having a strong campaigning role and this tended to bring them into conflict with local authorities
• The researchers found that questions continue to be raised as to whether direct payments are appropriate for all disabled people and community care groups, or whether some individuals, for example, older people living in socially disadvantaged circumstances, may find them too difficult to manage.
• Similarly concerns were raised with the researchers about the supply, pay and conditions of work of the personal care assistants, who are now, to all intents and purposes, employed by those receiving direct payments.
Commenting on the research Professor Sheila Riddell said:
“We need to understand how the modernisation of welfare agenda is playing out in different parts of the UK, so that disabled people and others are confident about having their rights respected irrespective of their country or locality. This research helps to inform the ongoing debate about the best way to empower service users”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health, which oversees the scheme in England, said: “Direct payments give individuals real choice and control over the services they use. We are committed to extending direct payments to enable greater numbers of people to benefit and we launched a national toolkit in May 2007 to support English local authorities to achieve this.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “The Scottish government has already addressed many of the issues raised in this report. New national guidance published July 2007 is designed to radically increase uptake of self-directed support (direct payments) in Scotland. Individual budgets are already a reality in some council areas. The guidance sets out good practice for equalising access across Scotland so that more people who wish to can benefit from the flexibility, control and independence self-directed support can bring.”
Danielle Moore | alfa
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences