Case Study: Direct payments for access to leisure opportunities 1

Zoe Thompson shares details with Justice Together of how they used RAS and statutory guidance to get Direct Payments for access to leisure opportunities

Using Direct Payments for access to Leisure OpportunitiesBackground

We applied for a Child in Need assessment for P (16 year old male) under Section 17 of the Children Act. P’s needs were assessed using the RAS form (Resource Allocation System). Here is a link to a blank copy of a RAS form.

It is very long but has been useful, not just for direct payments but also as part of the evidence that was submitted to transfer P from DLA to PIP, where his funding was actually increased.

We have also found the RAS form useful for providing evidence for P’s EHC Plan. So the form is long but it was worth doing in our case.

The most important bit of the RAS form is probably the bit where it tells you how many points equate to what indicative budget. This is how our local authority calculate it:

RAS - Support Needs

P has autism and at times, in certain environments and under certain pressures, the impact of his autism is severe. He scored in the 200 – 260 bracket.  This equated to a budget of £8,000 per year.

The activities he enjoys include: swimming; cooking; dog-walking; trampolining; going for meals. We wanted to use the direct payments for access to leisure opportunities including to a) pay for the time and travel expenses of a support worker to do these activities with him and b) pay for any activity-related costs and travel costs for P.

The Challenge

We were required by the local authority to put together a support plan detailing how we proposed to spend the money and what outcomes would be achieved. They were looking for outcomes relating to things like an increase in skills and independence and wanted to know how improvement in these areas would be measured.

I (Mum) got a bit naffed off with this because my memory of the statutory guidance about direct payments was that they were supposed to enable a young person with a disability to lead ‘an ordinary life– not to upskill them (that’s what EHC Plans are for, isn’t it??)

I picked the following points out the statutory guidance Direct Payments Guidance Community Care, Services for Carers and Children’s Services (Direct Payments) Guidance England 2003 (DoH)

These points may be helpful to other families (my italics where there is something particularly relevant):

13. The Government’s aim, in promoting direct payments, is to increase individuals’ independence and choice by giving them control over the way the services they are assessed as needing are delivered.

14. Where a child is assessed as needing services under section 17 of the 1989 Act, the local council also has to be satisfied that the direct payment will ‘safeguard and promote’ the welfare of the child for whom the service is needed.

63. Councils may set reasonable conditions on the direct payment, but need to bear in mind when doing so that the aim of a direct payment is to give people more choice and control over the services they are assessed as needing. For example, individual choice and control would not be delivered were a condition set that someone who receives direct payments may only use certain providers. Conditions should be proportionate and no more extensive, in terms or number, than is reasonably necessary. Councils should avoid setting up disproportionately intensive monitoring procedures.

121. Parents should be encouraged and supported to use direct payments with a view to enabling their disabled children to access the same kinds of opportunities and activities as their non-disabled peers. Direct payments to people with parental responsibility for a disabled child are provided within the framework of Part III of the 1989 Act which requires local councils to provide a range of services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need.

Outcomes and Measures:

So then I wrote my outcomes and measures as follows, in order to keep them as simple and hassle free as possible:

– P will be able to have access to activities that enable him to lead an ordinary life e.g. swimming, hot tub and sauna, dog-walking, going for meals.

The ‘measure’ for this is to count the number of times P is able to access one of these activities.

– P will be facilitated to access activities that he enjoys and from which he will be able to gain feelings of competence and success e.g. going swimming and to the sauna and hot tub; going out for meals; participating with his support worker in trampolining; cooking.

This will be measured by asking P to complete a Likert scale showing the degree to which he enjoyed the activity and how successful he felt.

Key Points:

  • No need to compare ‘progress’ over time
  • No need to tie anything to an increase in ‘skills’
  • I quoted from the statutory guidance in my response to the local authority – I think showing them that I knew the law was helpful

So if anyone else is hassled over outcomes and measures relating to direct payments for access to leisure opportunities, please feel free to use the above.

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One thought on “Case Study: Direct payments for access to leisure opportunities

  • Victoria

    Thank you for clear guidance on DD. Our case is similar, 17 yr old son, ASD,high functioning, high anxiety. No transparency from Social Care, no information sharing.