“That’s what your DLA is for”

A positive ombudsman report.[1] A council undertook a reassessment. Although the adult’s needs had not changed it decided to withdraw support for meal preparation and domestic tasks stating that (para 22):

DLA benefit would now need to be utilised to purchase support with practical homecare support, shopping, as well as fresh meal prep daily – lengthy periods required to prepare gluten free, specific organic meals can no longer be funded via DP provision. Social care provision would only be able to support light meal preparation and feeding if required.

The Ombudsman held this to be maladministration. Councils must meet eligible needs and cannot have ‘blanket policies or standard practice ruling out funding provision for these tasks’ (para 32-33).

This is not an isolated case: a large number of local authorities have policies of this kind and routinely people are being told that these services are not provided because “that is what your DLA is for”. This is simply untrue.   Local authorities must meet eligible needs but are also (in general) entitled to charge for the support they provide. It is at that point (and that point alone) that receipt of DLA may be relevant (but see the ‘challenging homecare charges‘ note). What the ombudsman could have pointed out also is that DLA is not awarded for housework – it relates to needs for ‘frequent attention in connection with your bodily functions OR continual supervision throughout the day’.

Equally widespread is the unlawful policy of refusing to provide transport support as part of a social care package – on the basis that ‘this is what your mobility benefit is for’ (see the ‘transport to social care services’ note).

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[1] London Borough of Haringey (16 012 715) 12 June 2017.

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