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Should We Ban Brokerage?

Doubts raised about independent professional brokerage

The Centre for Welfare Reform, in association with Paradigm, has published its first Discussion Paper entitled:

Should We Ban Brokerage?

Authors: Simon Duffy & Kate Fulton

Publication date: 6th November 2009

As local authorities begin the transformation of adult social care services many advocate that there is a critical role for independent professional brokers to advise people about how to use their individual budgets. In this ground-breaking paper the authors show that the arguments put forward for independent professional brokers are flawed and that both logic and evidence dictate that independent brokers are likely to be the the least efficient support system for people managing individual budgets.

Author Kate Fulton says “Some local authorities have been persuaded that the only legitimate source of support must come from independent professional brokers. This is despite the fact that all the great progress on Self-Directed Support was achieved without this new profession.”

The paper argues that instead of a new profession local authorities need to create a community-based support system, one that makes it easy and efficient for people to be in control. This also means making sure that existing organisations and professions play their full part in offering people support.

Author Simon Duffy says “We do not need a new profession of independent brokers - we need existing professionals, like social workers, to be given the chance to show that they can offer the right kind of support.”

The paper also argues that a range of different supports will be necessary and that there needs to be constant innovation in how people are supported.

Sally Warren, Managing Director of Paradigm, who sponsored the writing of the paper says, “Support Brokerage is not a new idea, but we are struggling to get it right for people.  There is confusion, some resistance and of course, some good practice developing. As the number of people with individual budgets increases it is essential that we develop wide ranging, creative, empowering local approaches to support people to get the lives they want and to be in control. One size does not and will not fit all.” 

The Discussion Paper will be launched on Friday 6th November at Paradigm’s Conference in London entitled Should We Ban Brokerage? 

Following the conference the paper will also be available at www.paradigm-uk.org

Summary of ‘Should We Ban Brokerage?’

This discussion paper aims to encourage more thinking and discussion about the development of a support structure for Self-Directed Support. The paper is split into three parts: first, we set out our concerns at the development of a narrowly defined model of Independent Professional Brokerage; second, we explore an alternative community-based model of support; and finally we offer 10 practical strategies for local action. 

We believe that a community-based model of support offers an approach which is more open, effective and efficient. In fact a shift towards such a community-based model may even reduce the funding necessary for infrastructure and increase the funding available for direct support - putting more money directly in the control of older people and disabled people. 

A community-based model: 

  • encourages and supports people to do more for themselves 
  • makes peer-to-peer support easily available 
  • makes better use of the current investment in community services 
  • encourages service providers to design and develop personalised support 
  • builds on the skills and abilities of existing professionals 

We are only just beginning to understand how best to support and develop Self-Directed Support. But progress to date has been made without the need for a new profession of Independent Professional Brokers. Instead progress has been made by taking an inclusive approach, one that enables everyone to take advantage of the flexibilities and benefits of Self-Directed Support.

Simon Duffy

Between 1990 and 1994 Simon led the development of a system of brokerage and individualised funding in Southwark. In 1996 he founded Inclusion Glasgow and developed Individual Budgets. In 2000 he began working with North Lanarkshire Council on the development of Self-Directed Support. Simon then led In Control from 2003 to 2009; during this time he proposed a functional model of brokerage, to replace the professional model that had become dominant in Canada and the USA. Simon has now established the Centre for Welfare Reform in order to promote a welfare system that promotes citizenship, family and community. 

Kate Fulton

Kate is a Senior Consultant for Paradigm, with a particular interest in support brokerage. She has worked in a variety of settings, supporting people with learning disabilities and people who experience mental ill health. Kate’s work has included working in the statutory, private and independent sector. Kate also spent many years in the advocacy field exploring planning and service design. Kate co-developed and led Paradigm’s Brokerage for Change development programme in 2007 and more recently co-authored the CSIP guidance on best practice in support planning and brokerage in 2008. Much of Kate’s work focuses on the development of support brokerage and she is keen to ensure that the new system empowers citizens to really direct their support. 

The Centre for Welfare Reform

The Centre for Welfare Reform is an independent research and development network. Its aim is to transform the current welfare state into one that supports citizenship, family & community. It was founded by Simon Duffy in 2009. Its primary areas of focus are:

  • Tax-benefit reform - building a fair and transparent system of entitlements and contributions
  • Community development - promoting a new relationship between government and civil society
  • Personalised education - supporting the development of effective education and family responsibility
  • Self-Directed Support - creating an integrated model of personalised support for health and social care 
  • Restoring citizenship - supporting communities to restore hope and citizenship to those who have become most cut-off by drugs, prison, abuse or institutionalisation.

Paradigm

Paradigm exists to ensure that people are fully supported to discover their own potential and to live the lives they choose. We provide a range of tailor made supports in the UK, including consultancy, training, conferences, publications and information; helping people, communities and services build an inclusive future. We work hard to be different and to make a difference, both in the lives of people and in the organisations that support them. We are not like any other consultancy or training agency - see for yourself by exploring our website www.paradigm-uk.org

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