New Direct Payment card – a flexible friend

In future people who get Direct Payments to pay for social care could be issued with a handy pre-payment card offering more control over their money. This will be the first such scheme in London if a trial next year is successful.

Most adults who receive Direct Payments have the money paid into their bank account. The new cards would aim to cut down on paperwork and make it easier for people who use the service to control what they spend and monitor their account.

Direct Payments and personal budgets give people control over how they buy care instead of the council providing a set package. Money is paid directly to those using social care if they have been assessed as qualifying for support. People can then use the payments to arrange their own care, whatever that might be.

The majority of people who are disabled, have a disabling illness and have been properly assessed as needing help to live independently, are eligible for Direct Payments. This includes:

  • Older people
  • People with mental health needs
  • Carers
  • Children with disabilities
  • Disabled people over 16-years-of-age

Customers who are already using Direct Payments were invited to an event in November where they were given the opportunity to enrol in a pilot scheme starting in February 2011 and scheduled to run for at least six months.

The payment cards allow monitoring of accounts in real time and alerts can be set up to help customers prevent over spending, get back money they are owed and top up their cards when it suits them.

Councillor Ruth Moher, Lead Member for Health and Social Care, said: Since 2003 we have had a duty to make Direct Payment available for everyone and many have taken up the offer. I have spoken to people who speak of it transforming their lives for the better. This is another step towards making it even easier for people to take advantage of Direct Payments.”

Customers have the option of having some support needs provided by the council while providing some assistance themselves by employing someone of their choice. Those who may have difficulty running a budget can take advantage of a managed account service provided and paid for by the council.
For more information contact josephine.wessels@brent.gov.uk using ‘Direct Payments Card’ as the subject line. For information about Brent’s Direct Payments Support group call Brent Council on 020 8937 4157.

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