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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Covid-19: Welfare benefit issues  →  Thread

LA claiming money back for closure due to pandemic

CDV Adviser
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Nestor Financial Group Ltd

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Joined: 20 January 2016

Hi, I would greatly appreciate some advice on this as it’s not an area I generally deal with.

The client receives Direct Payments for personal care and community access. However, the council now want a refund of the community access amount as the day care centre has been closed during the pandemic. This seems unfair as the client has had to pay more from the personal care package to cover the times he would have been in the centre.

Does this sound right? Has there been any notices allowing the council to do this?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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The government has published guidance for people receiving direct payment during the Covid-19 pandemic: Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants
.
Key points from the guidance – using direct payments differently
• Direct payments should continue as before.
• The government expects local authorities to give as much flexibility as possible in the use of direct payments during the pandemic.
• Where possible, the direct payment should be used line with the person’s care and support plan. However, if needed due the pandemic, the person should be permitted to use their direct payment differently. ‘We expect LAs and CCGs to be as flexible as possible when you have made reasonable decisions to use your direct payment differently in a way that keeps you safe and avoids your care breaking down’
• Ideally, the person should contact the local authority to agree any changes in the use of the direct payment deviating from the care and support plan. The guidance says ‘we understand this will not be possible every time. This is OK’.
• When the person uses their direct payment differently, they should record this and the reasons for doing so, retaining evidence such as receipts, as this may be needed for future reviews.
• Direct payment reviews should continue during the pandemic and the person should keep records of their use of the payment as normal. Local authorities should take a ‘proportionate’ approach to direct payment reviews.
• Where the person has built up unspent direct payment amounts, and the local authority has agreed this can be used as a contingency fund to pay for additional care where needed, any use of this money due to Covid-19 should be recorded so it can be discussed at the appropriate time.

As such, I think they’re properly overstepping the mark here to ask for the money back if your client can show they’ve spent it on other care provision.

CDV Adviser
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Nestor Financial Group Ltd

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That’s great Paul. Thank you for your reply.