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Changes to social care will 'streamline' system

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

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CHANGES are being made to the system which lets people decide what social care they receive.

Personal budgets have been introduced across the country to allow recipients more control in selecting how they are helped.

Social workers are expected to offer a 'direct payment' option to everyone eligible for a personal budget.

But it has raised concerns that people unable to cope with the administrative burden of the system will lose out.

According to a Gloucestershire County Council report examining the issue of direct payments, some users have said the direct system is "administratively cumbersome" and they are "overwhelmed by the quantity of tasks" they have to take on.

Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat leader on the council, said: "Personal budgets allow people to choose what they want to do with the money they receive. But with direct payments, some people might find it difficult to handle the finances and that might cause a problem where they might be able to say what they want but they might not be able to handle the finances, so it is difficult.

"There are also issues with people with learning difficulties in terms of getting that right – we want to make sure that there is proper flexibility within the system so that we get the balance right.

"It is really about making sure that some vulnerable people just don't lose out because of a service they can't cope with."

There are currently 225 people in the county with a learning disability receiving direct payments while a further 651 people receive services through a personal budget.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire County Council said: "We are listening to our service users and currently redesigning our direct payment system to ensure a more seamless and easy to administer approach.

"We have a commissioning group in place which will address the issues raised by service users and streamline the system."

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