London Borough of Barnet

Prepaid cards to give residents more control over their social care

Published Wednesday 1 August 2012

Barnet Council has launched a system of prepaid cards to give adults requiring social care control over how they pay for their support.

The prepaid cards, which work in a similar way to a debit card, will allow residents who qualify for financial assistance from the council to pay for services to meet their social care needs as set out in their support plan.

The scheme was officially launched on Friday 27 July, with staff from the council’s Adult Social Care team handing over the first prepaid card to a Barnet resident.

Once their Personal Budget for social care support has been agreed, residents can ask the council to arrange a prepaid card for them providing it is suitable for their circumstances.

A prepaid card will make it simpler for people to take control of their social care budget by giving them a straightforward means of paying for the support which is right for them without having to provide proof of payment as was previously the case.

Up until now people receiving direct payments have had to open a separate bank account to receive the money and pay for their care.

The new cards will allow people to personalise their support without the administrative responsibilities that go along with having a separate bank account for receiving social care funding.

As with more traditional direct payments, the money can only be used to meet someone’s social care needs, but having such direct control over their Personal Budget means people can be much more flexible in the way they do this.

Residents wishing to purchase support from a provider of their choice can use the card in the same way as a normal debit card: over the telephone, the internet or in person.

Residents are able to check how much of their direct payment is left on their card via the internet or by phone.

The council will remotely monitor the usage of the prepaid cards each month, but is also able to carry out random spot-checks where necessary and can even put a block on a card if it is not being used for its intended purpose.

More than 300 people are expected to benefit from the initiative each year as well as being made available to the 800 or so people already receiving direct payments.

Chryso Kyriacou, who received her card last week, said: “The cards will give people more control, if you have lost full use of your hand you no longer have to rely on someone else to write for you.

“You can operate this system with one finger and a computer. There’s a lot less paperwork with the card. Before with direct payments I had to photocopy bank statements and invoices.”

Councillor Sachin Rajput, Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “Giving people control over how their money is spent on their care is a tremendously important way of making sure services are as tailored to their individual needs as possible.

“The introduction of prepaid cards for those receiving direct payments will give residents a greater freedom in personalising their care as well as being easier and more flexible than before.”

Contact press officer: Nick Griffin