We spoke last week about block contracts, and their dangers, and of individual budgets.
Once issued, local authorities have an unfortunate bias towards block contracts.
They are dealing with the same providers, whom they know well.
They also tend to offer someone wanting an individual budget only the cash that could buy the requisite hours at the block contract rate. Of course, most providers can’t match that low rate because they don’t have the same volume.
If they offer a higher price, the individual customer has to dip into their own resources to pay the top-up.
It gets worse.
One local authority has now issued an instruction to its social workers that individual budgets can only be offered once the financial assessment has been completed.
Yet these assessments can take two months or more to complete.
Most needs for home care is sudden and urgent. For instance, the death or hospitalisation of a caring family member, or a discharge from hospital.
In these circumstances there is no choice for the customer at all – they have to have the block provider.
This would seem to run in direct contravention of the Care Act principles.