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Pooling Personal Budgets

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F32

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have recently launched their new ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ partnerships with a number of national charities, of which Disability Rights UK is one. This involves Disability Rights UK gathering feedback from disabled people about their experiences of using health and social care services. The CQC would welcome feedback on your experience of using any of the services they regulate. Please click here to do so.

Introduction

With the implementation of the Care Act, local authorities have now a legal duty to offer personal budgets and direct payments that offer you more flexibility over how your care and support is arranged and provided. They are given to both people with care and support needs, and also to carers. The local authorities will conduct an assessment in line with the eligibility criteria set in the Care Act. Once eligible, you will be involved in the draft of a care and support plan and you could choose to receive your personal budget in the form of a direct payment instead of letting the council arrange services for you. 

Once you know your indicative budget, you will need to fill in a support plan either on your own or with support (see factsheets F21/59 for further details).  The support plan will need to be “signed off” by your local authority worker.  You may be asked to pay as contribution some of your personal money if you have available finances, you will be requested to complete a financial assessment to see how much you may contribute towards your care.  You should not be asked to contribute more than you can afford (see factsheet F3 for more details).

You will have been provided information about how you wish to receive your personal budget and the different options of how you could also manage the budget allocated to you.  One of these options is ‘Pooling Personal Budgets’. Pooled budgets (or pooled fund) is an option to manage the budget, whereby two or more people (partners) who receive a personal budget opt to take their budget as a direct payment, and agree to have an account to achieve mutual agreed aims such as employing a personal assistant (PA) to support partners to pursue outdoor activities in the community. This helps to minimize gaps in service delivery, improves value for money, and ensures that a clear set of services is designed to fulfil the needs of service users.

For personalisation to be made real, ‘Pooling Personal Budgets’ is another way that empowers disabled people and promotes their choice in how they wish to lead their life in order to be part of the community life. Recipients of personal budgets decide to bring together/ ‘pooling’ their resources i.e. their budgets, skills, efforts, and other 'assets' (referred to as their 'real wealth') to achieve defined outcomes and do things that they wish to do as a group. ‘Pooling’ is the grouping together and combination of the disabled people’s assets to carry out their objectives and goals to meet their needs effectively. This maximizes their independence and control over how they make changes in their life. The agreed outcomes need to be stated in each partner’s support plan.

You may select the pooling budgets option for various reasons. It could be because you want to have peer support and share your budget with friends whom you consider as ‘peers’, or you wish to be in the company of those in similar circumstances or have shared experience and hobbies/interests.

“Pooling” budgets can work on several different levels, both informally and formally and can be simple or complex and challenging.  Pooling budgets may have administrative, insurance, legal and tax consequences. You must remember that if you choose to pool your personal budget with another person or with a group of people, then you:

  • are still accountable for the way you spend your money,
  • need to monitor expenditure against budget in order to avoid the risk of budget deficit,
  • still need to send any quarterly returns/report to your local authority. 

Since pooling budgets require more than one partner to collaborate in making financial contributions, each individual partner has responsibilities that will be accounted for. Good relations and connection between the partners is vital in using the budget, otherwise a breakdown of partnership may occur.  

If you have a “managed account” service, the managed account providers will also have a responsibility for sending back information to the local authority about how your personal budget is being spent.  Your individual support plan should demonstrate how you are going to utilize your personal budget and how you are going to manage your personal budget.

Examples of pooling budgets are:

  • Forming a social group – a group of personal budget holders contribute an agreed amount from their budget so they can meet up regularly, socialise and offer peer support. 
  • Sport clubs or Faith groups - for individuals who have shared interests, so they pool their budgets to meet to exercise their sports/faith.

You need to consider the challenges before you decide to choose the ‘Pooling Budget’ option. Your social worker or advocate/broker could assist you in maintaining good connection with the right partners with similar interests to ensure the success of this partnership. There may be issues of concern that need to be taken account of such as:

  • What and how will the budget be used for, and how will it be monitored?
  • How will each partner’s resources be joined in in a joint venture?
  • How much money will each partner contribute?
  • Will the partners go for a joint account or single account in the name of one partner trusted by the whole group?
  • Decisions need to be made as to who will be responsible for what?
  • 'Who is the (PAYE responsible) employer' in a joint pooled agreement?
  • How to ensure that the pooled arrangement will achieve its agreed outcomes?
  • How will you be involved in decision-making?

Whilst “pooling” personal budgets is not a new idea, it’s not as yet a widely recognised method of using personal budgets. Some local authorities may provide you with information about how to “pool” your personal budget with another individual who is also looking for someone to pool their budget with. Your local Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) or User Led Organization (ULO) may be able to offer advice and support. You can ask your local authority worker for further information in your area about pooling budgets.

Derbyshire County Council has created a Direct Payment Good Practice Guide which includes information about pooling budgets “Good Practice Guide 3”  www.derbyshire.gov.uk

Richmond Users Independent Living Scheme www.ruils.co.uk have undertaken work around “pooling personal budgets” and have developed a comprehensive guide “Pooling Direct Payments – Your Ideas, Your Way”.  This guide takes the group through the process of setting up, deciding what they want to do, employing someone to help make it happen, choosing activities, maintaining the group, and the various challenges and solutions. 

Further information about pooling budgets, what is pooling, organising a pooling group, structural, legal, and tax aspects, and future pooling developments is available on Disability and Tax (A guide from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group) www.disabilitytaxguide.org.uk 

Also see the website of In-Control, click on the below link for information about groups that have already set up pooled arrangements:

http://www.in-control.org.uk/blog/pooling-personal-budgets-another-way-to-make-personalisation-real.aspx

Where can I get more help?

For further help and information please contact our Advice Line - 0330 995 0404.

You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org. We have a number of independent living factsheets.

3 May 2016

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