Means and ends, 'any way', whose decision is whose?

When support planning, a social worker and service user negotiate ‘agreed outcomes’. That’s right isn’t it? The decision about what the agreed outcomes are is a JOINT decision. In a way, both sides get a veto. If they can’t agree, the process stalls. Is that right, in general?

So lets say outcomes are agreed. What about the means to achieve those outcomes? Whose decision is that? Is that a joint decision as well? Or does the service user decide that? Do the means also have to be negotiated and defined in the support plan? Or are they left undefined? The Statutory Guidance says that any means may be used to achieve the agreed outcomes:

“The authority should ensure that the relevant local guidance or procedures work to assist the person to use the available financial resource in a variety of ways. In other words, to use it in any way provided that it will secure the provision of support agreed with the practitioner and provided that it meets the outcomes contained in the support plan.” (p 18)

And again:

“As set out in the section on funding and flexibility, the authority should take steps to ensure that the supported person can use their direct payment in any way, provided that the support purchased via the payment is in line with the assessment and support plan, meets the supported person’s needs and is within the criminal and civil law.” (p 19)

And again:

“The new standard is that people are involved in the development of their budget and have maximum
flexibility to use this in the way that they choose to achieve agreed outcomes.” (p 55)

This strongly suggests that there is a clear distinction between means and ends. Ends are a joint decision belonging to both the authority and service user. Means seem to be the decision of the service user solely, as long as the service user can show they meet the agreed outcomes and not criminal, and so on. But do all possible means have to be decided in advance? It seems not. That would let the authority into that decision. They could refuse to sign the agreement if it had means they didn’t like.

But even if the means to the agreed outcomes is solely the discretion of the service user, that creates an issue with funding. The level of funding is solely a decision for the LA, rightly so. That’s not a joint decision at all. But how is the authority to calculate what an appropriate level of funding is if they have no idea what the means are going to be? The cost of the package depends entirely on what kinds of things it’s going to be spent on!

So we’re stuck in a logical loop here, right? Budget depends on means. Means are decided by service user. So the service user decides the budget (!!). But the service user doesn’t decide the budget. Crash.

Is this coherent in a way that I can’t see? Have I misunderstood it?

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Your analysis is correct, but in practice many LAs are effectively limiting flexibility by restricting the expenditures to paid staff support and directly attributable expenses such as insurance and payroll. Transport costs for example are now increasingly regarded as from the supported persons own benefits and resources.

Yes, that’s what they do. But they can’t do that lawfully can they? They can’t decide for people what the means are going to be. Transport costs, for example, might be essential to meeting the agreed outcomes, and therefore DP money may be lawfully used for transport costs.

My LA take the view that the Mobility element of PiP is adequate and therefore they won’t pay for travel.To be entirely fair, I can see their point, and we’ve learned to live within our means. Benefits and SDS sort of have some overlaps and some gaps…and whatever you do will be unfair to some, as whilst my son can use a public bus for free with a companion card, others need specialist w/ c support vehicles. Every individual is unique. I’m not complaining as others have received far less support over the decades, its swings and roundabouts.

PIP is a benefit, you can spend it as you please. A direct payment isn’t. You are in no way obliged to use your PIP to meet shortfalls caused by the LA obstructing your lawful use of your DP. I applaud your public spirit, but I fear it may be misplaced! Nobody else will receive a penny extra if you forego what is rightfully yours or your son’s. On the contrary, fighting for your rights makes it more likely others will get theirs.

Unfortunately I do not see any of these as rights: they are - sort-of - entitlements.
Its a bit like the Pirates Code: not so much rules , as# “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
– Barbossa, Pirates of the CaribbeanThose of us who claim discretionary state benefits of any kind will always have to play the game, which is about being worthy. Or pretending to be worthy!