Where next for payment cards in adult social care?

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The Independent Living Strategy Group, In Control and Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), have published a document on the use of payment cards in social care. It looks at how payment cards are being used by local authorities as a means of managing a personal budget and follows research undertaken by the Independent Living Strategy Group. The research identified significant variation in the way payment cards were being used across the country, and found examples of good and poor practice.

The guidance - Payment cards as a means of managing a personal budget supports the principles of the Care Act and offers helpful and practical advice. Recommendations are made to support best practice and ensure greater consistency in the use of payment cards. It will be relevant to local authorities - especially, social workers, assessment officers, support planners, finance teams and others involved in administering and overseeing personal budgets.

Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage says,

"People should have control over their care as experts in their own needs. Personal budgets empower people to do just that, recognising every person’s situation is different. Our NHS Long Term Plan commits to further roll out of this kind of person-centred care and it will also be a key focus in the forthcoming green paper, so even more people can benefit from choice and control over their health and care.

"However, it is vital that when individuals receive a personal budget they have access to the full range of options, including whether or not to have a direct payment, and whether this is provided via a pre-paid card. Pre-paid cards should never be the only option for a personal budget, and this guidance rightly outlines the importance of choice. I urge local authorities to adhere to these principles."

The Baroness Campbell of Surbiton says,

 "The Independent Living Strategy Group were very concerned by the findings of our research in this area.  Payment cards are potentially empowering when adopted as a positive choice by people who would rather not use a bank account for their direct payment.  But our research found that sometimes cards were imposed on people in order to monitor and control their lives rather than to enable choice and control.

“We have therefore supported this guidance and look forward to working alongside In Control, TLAP and other sector bodies who choose to join us to ensure the cards are used in a way that respects people’s rights, dignity and privacy."

Chair of the TLAP Board, Clenton Farquharson adds,  

“As someone with extensive knowledge of the payment card system, I would want to see enough flexibility in their use so that they keep up with people’s changing care needs and wishes in line with support plans. After all, self-directed support mechanisms are intended to underpin person-centred approaches and must prioritise the person over the process”.

Julie Stansfield, CEO of In Control, who wrote the guidance, says,

“As an emerging technology payment cards have great potential for empowering choice and control for people who choose them. We hope the guidance will allow local authorities to review the way they use the cards. We will be working alongside those authorities who ask us, to review their current arrangement to ensure the cards become a tool that promotes personalised care and support”.

Notes to editors:

In Control is a national charity working for an inclusive society where everyone has the support they need to live a good life and make a valued contribution. The report describing the seminal research leading to the guidance within Payment Cards as a means of managing a personal budget can be down loaded here.

Independent Living Strategy Group is made up of disabled people and allies from a range of organisations. It is convened by Baroness Jane Campbell.

Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) is a partnership of over 50 organisations committed to personalisation and community-based health, care and support.