Pool budgets – what’s it all about?

As noted in our previous news item (June 2012) the numbers of people receiving their personal budget as a direct payment (in which people manage the money allocated to them for their care and support themselves) is stagnating. One of the main reasons for this is people’s fear of being an employer and all the responsibilities that it entails and also having enough hours to make it a viable package.

One of the possible solutions to this is for 2 or 3 or more people to combine or “pool” part or all of their budget to employ 2 or more PAs to give more flexibility in the use of the budget.

Active independence has spent considerable time exploring how this might work and, unfortunately, it is not as straightforward as it might seem! There are particular complications for the local authority around the direct payment agreement and, for HMRC, around employer responsibilities in relation to tax and NI.

There are examples of people pooling their budgets to purchase equipment or run a social group but, to date, there is little evidence that scenario outlined above has been properly tackled.

A user led organisation in Richmond (RUILS) has organised a conference (19th October) to discuss the issue and we look forward to hearing the outcomes . Choices and Rights Disability Coalition in Hull has a years funding to employ a pooled budgets worker, Luke Cardwell. He has written an interesting article in this month’s Access Magazine (www.AccessMagazine.co.uk) and can be contacted on  01482 878778 e-mail Luke@choicesandrights.org.uk