RUILS : Pooling Budgets

What does pooling mean for Local Authorities?

Pooling budgets is a great idea in principle, but in practice can be difficult to orchestrate and keep running smoothly. The latest research and development, gathered on this website, follows the production of Ruils 2010 Guide to Pooling Direct Payments and takes reference from the subsequent pilot schemes and pooling work carried out by the Local Authorities and voluntary organisations who purchased the guide and / or attended events and workshops. The updated guide will shortly be available to purchase in printed form and information, tools and templates are available in the guide. 

Many Local Authorities contributed to our pooling events (for which a big thank you) and together we highlighted the many advantages of pooling as well as some barriers and obstacles, some of which we have resolved, others we’ve had to work around. Some of you have been involved with pilot projects and several have great guidance on your websites. Many projects have made good progress, and some have stood the test of time, but some have faltered or folded when funding ran dry or pilots took longer than expected to get off the ground. The tools, templates and advice on this website are intended to encourage groups to set things up efficiently and safeguard against some of the pitfalls and delays.
 
The most important factor to be highlighted from all the events and workshops was that the most successful pooling arrangements have been made where there is resource from the local authority or local voluntary organisation to support the setting up and running of the pooling arrangement. We would strongly recommend that Local Authorities give serious thought to how they might support and resource this. 

GETTING STARTED

Individuals can pool their resources, not only to save money, but to share ideas, skills and support mechanisms. The net result of this is that individual budgets go further and ultimately Councils save money, but this should not be the starting point or the main driver. Many care managers and social workers have asked about the process for pooling - should it be introduced at the support planning stage for example so that savings can be built into the plan? The answer is not necessarily. Individuals will be ready for pooling at different stages in their DP life cycle, but usually not at the beginning. Local Authorities need to be flexible in their approach to approving pooling arrangements, and leave some flexibility for individuals to return to their independent arrangements if things don’t work out. Finance departments should be encouraged to understand the potential savings and allow flexible mechanisms to support group spending. Where managed accounts are concerned, finance departments should be encouraged to allow payments into a joint pooling account.

To summarise how you can help:

  • Allocate resource to focus on pooling. Even if this is part of another role, it is important that there is positive encouragement for pooling arrangements and a safety net for when things go wrong.
  • Encourage individuals to think about pooling when it’s right for them, not right for you.
  • Allow flexibility in the budget so that it is possible to return to individual arrangements if necessary.
  • Do not be too regimented in your approach or try to impose structure and process.

Pooling is brilliant way for individuals to meet likeminded people and do things they might not have done before or even dreamed about. Take a look at some of the inspiring examples here and put some thought to how you can also make it happen! For information on Ruils Pooling Consultancy and Training workshops, click here