This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Independent living for young disabled
Parents of disabled children will for the first time be able to use direct payments to purchase children's services, it was announced today. Disabled teenagers over the age of 16 will also receive the payments.
Deputy Health Minister, Hugh Henry explained how direct payments will allow disabled people to receive cash to purchase services directly, instead of services being provided for them by their local authority. This aims to promote more independent living by helping disabled people to play a more active role in choosing how the services they need are delivered.
At present direct payments can only be used by disabled people aged 18 and over to purchase community care services, such as help with getting up and going to bed, day care services, or assistance with preparing and cooking meals.
The change, effective from today, is intended to help young disabled people who are leaving home or care pay for the services they need, while disabled parents will be able purchase children's services to help with their parenting role.
Mr Henry said:
"The Executive is committed to ensuring that disabled people receive the necessary help and support to enable them to lead as full and independent lives as possible.
"That is why after a wide ranging UK review of direct payments in 1998, we undertook to extend the scope of direct payments as outlined today. It recommended bringing down the age limit for direct payments from 18 to 16 as well as extending direct payments to disabled parents to allow them to purchase the services their children may need.
"In extending the scope of direct payments we also recognise the important role played by voluntary organisations in certain areas of Scotland in helping disabled people to live more independently. That is why last April we committed £530,000 to "Direct Payments Scotland", to help ensure that this assistance is extended throughout Scotland.
"These new measures mean that disabled people aged 16 and over throughout Scotland can now use direct payments to give them more choice over the care they receive, and therefore more control over their lives.
"The Community Care and Health Bill, currently being considered by Parliament will extend the availability of direct payments still further. It will mean that local authorities will have a duty to offer direct payments to, not only disabled people, but all who are entitled to community care services."
In 1997 local authorities were given the power to make cash payments for community care services direct to certain individuals instead of providing the service itself. However, people can continue to have services arranged by their local authority if they would prefer to do so.
Today's announcement brings the lower age limit for direct payments into line with the Department for Work and Pensions' Independent Living Fund eligibility criteria.
These Regulations are made under the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996 which gives local authorities in Scotland the power to make cash payments for community care services direct to individuals.
Further provisions introduced in the Community Care and Health Bill will make it a duty for local authorities to offer direct payments instead of arranging services and will make it possible for attorneys and guardians to set up, alter and receive direct payments on someone's behalf. Parents will also be able to receive direct payments to purchase the services their children require. Local authorities will be able to sell their services to users and the scope of direct payments will be further widened to include all community care clients.
"Direct Payments Scotland" has been established, with funding from the Scottish Executive, to increase the uptake of direct payments throughout Scotland. Its core aims are to:
- Increase awareness of direct payments amongst community care users, local authority staff and service providers
- Establish and develop user-led support organisations
- Establish a national information service and provide good practice exchange
- Identify and address training needs for support organisations and local authority staff
Further information on 'Direct Payments Scotland' is available from the helpline on 0131 558 3450 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Payments Scotland is managed and hosted by UPDATE, Scotland's National Disability Information Consultancy.
UPDATE is an innovative user-led initiative in Scotland. It's primary aim is to collate and disseminate disability and impairment related information to first tier information providers throughout Scotland. UPDATE is managed by a consortium which includes the Lothian Coalition of Disabled People, the Centre for Independent Living in Glasgow, and the DisAbility Alliance in the Scottish Highlands. Funding has been provided by The Scottish Executive.