Bill-021 - Mark Isherwood - Community Care (Direct Payments) (Wales) Bill
A Member must provide ‘pre-ballot information’ to set out the intended purpose of their proposed Bill before it is entered into the Presiding Officer's ballot. This information is set out below.
Policy Objectives of the Bill
1. The proposed Bill is designed to amend the Direct Payments system of social care in Wales changing it from one where service users opt-in to use a Direct Payment to one where they opt-out.
2. Direct Payments offer the following benefits to carers and service users:
- Choice: Direct Payments allow people to make more of the decisions which affect their lives.
- Control: If a person receives Direct Payments they can decide how their needs will be met, by whom and at what time.
- Independence: Direct Payments allow for care that is flexible and encourages independence.
3. Previous Welsh Governments have sought to use regulations to encourage local authorities to promote Direct Payments and provide guidance to make it an easier option for both service users and the local authority. However the number of people using Direct Payments remains under 3,000 out of approximately 70,000 people accessing some form of social care.
4. Although Direct Payments are currently an option for service users and carers, many people are reluctant to use them due to it being a minority option. In the Respite Care Review undertaken by LE Wales 18.1% of carers surveyed stated that Direct Payments were the service they most wanted
[1*]. The same report recommended that the Welsh Government “make direct payments easier for carers to use.”
5. By making Direct Payments the norm rather than the exception this Bill would give service users and carers the opportunity to plan their own care and support services.
6. The Bill accepts that whilst there are a large number of people who would benefit from Direct Payments, there is a sizable number of people who would not want this freedom. The Bill would therefore allow those individuals to choose to receive service planned by the Local Authority
7. Support has been received from MS Society Cymru and the policy agenda has been influenced by Disability Wales and other charities through the Independent Living Now campaign
8. Mark Isherwood AM has worked closely with MS Society Cymru, which represents over 4,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in Wales. The charity has consulted its members on the policy objectives supporting this Bill.
9. The consultation undertaken by LE Wales for the Welsh Government’s Respite Care review also support the need for this Bill
[1*] LE Wales, ‘Respite Care in Wales – Final Report for the Welsh Assembly Government’, Cardiff, 2010, p28